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They hold your hand as you climb aboard. They guide you through the induction. They brief you about the company values, inculcating a sense of oneness and belonging. They ensure you have the right mentors, the most suitable training and plenty of opportunities to develop yourself holistically. They facilitate your career aspirations and walk with you, every step on your journey from a fresh recruit to an established achiever. From securing a seamless integration to safeguarding your interests, from educating you about your rights, to instructing you about your responsibilities, from providing a learning experience at work to protecting your work life balance, they got your back. They are the Human Resource Management Team.

The Age of Technology has truly arrived. We are inundated with these wonders of science and automation and we encounter these marvels at every step of our corporate journey. Computers today can perform a billion calculations in a matter of nanoseconds. Super computers can predict market conditions by extrapolating the current scenario given a set of conditions and within given constraints. Machines perform tasks flawlessly. AI today can map the ideal candidates to the vacant jobs. One is almost coerced into wondering if technology will replace HR Managers. And yet, HR Managers are perhaps the most adaptable of the human race. And technology does not mitigate the need for a human hand, on the contrary, it offers new avenues for us to explore. Delegating the administrative chores to machines, we are free to pursue the quest to understand the deepest working of the human capital. Leveraging our experience, instincts and human capacity to empathise, we can forge an environment where we promote sustainable development and utilize the tremendous potential of machines to create positive synergy. I believe that we are entering the Era of Human Understanding.

“Nothing we do is more important than hiring people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not strategies.” -Lawrence Bossidy

Gone are the days when the demand for talent far overshadowed the supply. The modern-day organizations demand specialists with a generalist outlook. People who are masters of their domain and yet can seamlessly integrate their expertise into the larger picture. And for this, we need to map the right talent to the right role. The onus lies on the HR manager to identify the right prospects, arrange for the interview, facilitate the selection, partner with the line manager to provide the right onboarding experience and then help the recruit translate his untapped potential into results. Hiring Right is the new success mantra. In a future where, personal freedom is treasured and the expression of such freedom is a fundamental right to dignity, the organization becomes a cauldron of diversity where inclusion is the norm and organizational growth is a common driving force binding all disparate elements into one great entity.

“As the pace of change increases in every aspect of our lives, HR professionals have become change champions in many companies around the world, and this has generally been much to their employers’ advantage.” ― David Ulrich, HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human

Lionel Messi trains for 10 hours a day. Virat Kohli practices for 8 hours a day. P V Sindhu hones her skills for 8 hours a day. Dr. William Abdu still attends medical conferences to keep himself updated. What is common between them is that they are unquestionably at the top in their respective fields and despite their achievements, still believe that there is scope for learning. Drawing a parallel in the corporate world, when talent meets great training and development, it leads to the creation of the something special. Providing the appropriate training interventions is integral to the development of an individual. This also leads to better person – role fit and eventually leads to a high performing employee. These interventions can be skills enhancing exercises or behavioural in nature. A valuable human resource is the consequence of right hiring, right training and right opportunities.

78% companies are prioritizing on diversity in order to improve work culture and financial performance.

(Source: Global Recruiting Trends 2018, LinkedIn)

Collectively, as a species, we are the most dominant life form in existence. Complex, highly individualistic and yet with a compulsive need for social acceptance, aspirational and yet fearful of the unknown, human beings are a set of contradictions and inconsistencies. And the HR Manager has to make sense of these series of anomalies. A successful manager has a grasp of what motivates his workforce, and knows the right levers to push ensuring high productivity without compromising on employee engagement. Ironically, while social media keeps us constantly connected across geographical boundaries, it has led to a dramatic drop in social interactions in person. This trend is unhealthy as it leads to a sense of social isolation. The present-day HR manager must create opportunities for employees to regain that lost human touch. They must facilitate exchange of ideas, opinions and overcome inter functional boundaries. Apart from having an organization wide intranet to encourage employee involvement, there must also be avenues of in person interactions. War rooms, brain storming sessions, family day, celebrating festivals and momentous occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries are all ways to infuse a healthy dose of life in a workplace and unlock one’s inherent creativity. A timely reminder of who the person is outside the 4 walls of his cubicle. This responsibility of providing every employee with a family at work lies with the HR manager. In a future that seems to be foreordained to be eclipsed by the rise of technology, establishing a person to person connect becomes increasingly critical to ensure we retain our humanity even in pursuit of excellence.

There are good leaders, and then there are the great ones. What sets the truly great ones apart from the rest is the legacy they leave behind. It is human destiny to leave behind what was once ours. Realising this, the visionary leaders plan for the eventuality well in advance. This they do in collaboration with the HR Managers. Securing the future of the organization by meticulous succession planning and pre-emptive replacement strategies is one of the most integral HR functions. The selection of the heir to the critical position is merely the beginning, the chosen candidate must be groomed for the role, guided through a carefully choreographed sequence of assignments and given optimal exposure and mentoring to develop an integrated perspective. Just like the Hand of the King counsels the King in Game of Thrones, the HR must be the chaperon that ushers in the future of the organization.

“Without the right succession planning put to play in human resources, we build for the future without a future.” – Mmanti Umoh

In a storm, it is the arrogance of the mighty trees that result in their fall, even as the adaptable shrubs bend but survive. This analogy represents how the HR Manager must not resist changes owing to the wave of technology that threatens to make all HR functions redundant. Instead they must embrace technology and wield it as weapon to overcome even seemingly insurmountable odds. Some ways to adopt technology is using mobile apps to stay connected with the workforce beyond the organizational walls, take advantage of Big Data to make smarter, more intuitive interactive digital platforms, employ blockchain technology to facilitate safer transactions of money and data and avail the benefits of Artificial Intelligence to make the best of available data by way of HR Chatbots.

Motivation is the key to an individual’s performance. A satisfied employee is a productive employee and the HR manager must design the right combination of monetary rewards and non-financial benefits to enable an employee to deliver her best. As the world transitions from mass production to personalization, HR managers must tailor each compensation plan and Rewards and Recognition initiative to suit every individual. Customised compensation package is the new buzzword and is set to become not only a globally acceptable practice, but a universally expected norm. Allowing work from home, paid maternity leave, encouraging family vacations, providing health insurance cover, etc are now seen as basic requirements and form an integral part of an organization’s Employee Value Proposition.

79% of executives rate redesign of performance management system and practices to incorporate elements like continuous feedback, goal-setting, and employee-driven communication as a high priority.

(Source: 2017 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte)

The HR Manager is friend, guide, mentor and kin to every employee in the organization. The future is exciting and it brings with it its fair share of challenges. From communicating the company vision, mission and strategy effectively to the stakeholders, to aligning every member with the organizational values, from partnering with the IT Team to manage the HR platform, to conducting awareness drives about sensitive issues such as POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment), LGBT inclusion etc, from designing the most efficient process flow to coordinating different centres of Excellence, the HR manager of the future must wear multiple hats as he becomes the glue that binds the family together.

Talent professionals accept the AI is the most useful in tasks like sourcing (58%), screening (56%) and nurturing (55%) candidates.

(Source: Global Recruiting Trends 2018, LinkedIn)

In order to prepare ourselves better for the future, we must equip ourselves better with learnings from our past. Historically, India has been the Land of Spirituality, and we must turn towards the divine for answers when the temporal avenues of solutions fall short of our expectations. Just as Carl Jung divided humanity into introverts, extroverts and ambiverts, we have the Gunas as the fundamental fibre of our being. Satva, Rajas and Tamas are the 3 gunas that form the elixir of our nature or Swabhava. We are all a product of a combination of these 3 gunas. Understanding which guna is dominant in a person can help us better understand what inherently motivates him. The Satvic person yearns for peace and self-actualization, transcending the mortal world into something deeper, the Rajavic person is passionate and driven by ambition, in search of power and wealth and expansion. The Tamasic person is one who is consumed by greed and envy and can negatively impact the workplace environment. Thus, in order to achieve outwardly success, we must look inwards for retrospection and contemplation. Only a person who understands the core values of another can truly know his employees.

Superimposing the Gunas on the Maslow’s original 5 – Stage Hierarchy of Needs, we get the following:

maslow hierarchy of need

Ruthless competition, break neck pace of life, sacrosanct deadlines and an ever-volatile technological landscape make today’s corporate life exceedingly demanding. And the rising cases of managers committing suicides and young business executives suffering from serious heart ailments are testament to the excruciating stress levels at work. Thus, today’s Human Manager is expected not only to perform transactional roles, but also act as a strategic partner. His job demands that he not only align his decisions to the vision of the company, but also ensure an ideal culture at the workplace. The job description of an HRM has seen a paradigm shift from a function that was considered a mere embellishment of the Employer Value Proposition to being an integral cog in the corporate machinery. Therefore, the criticality of a Human Resource Manager cannot be overstated in the present context and it is a powerful tool that if utilized effectively can propel an organization to the zenith of its potential.

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