In the technology & analytics era, future of HR is no HR

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The impact of technology is evident in each business function and HR is no exception, Technology is changing the HRM in rapid pace but what is future of HR? We have with us Manoj Kumar; he is sharing his thoughts on how technological disruption is reshaping HR and what is people analytics.

Manoj Kumar – one of the top 40Under40 HR leader, is a well-recognized authority in the workplace digital transformation and people analytics space. He often speaks at Industry Conferences (NASSCOM, NIPM, NHRD, Talent Analytics, Shine-HT), CHRO/investor Round-table communities, Company Strategy Meets, Management Institutes, and Entrepreneurial Events. He also actively contributes to the academia via HR Analytics Masterclasses in IIMs and Analytics Conclaves. He is Vice-president – HR Analytics center of excellence for one the leading international bank.

Q- How do you see future of HR changing due to technological disruption?

The workplace is converging, and so are future skills and talent requirements. Today auto industry is hiring more electrical and 3D printing engineers than hardcore manufacturing or mechanical engineers. A driverless car on the road will disrupt more than 25 industries. Irrespective of the industry and size, Business Intelligence and cloud skills are becoming a norm. It’s a new world with new rules.

“The workplace is converging,and so are future skills and talent requirements. Today auto industry is hiring more electrical and 3D printing engineers than hardcore manufacturing or mechanical engineers.”

 

Organizations needs to be agile to adopt changes faster and remain fit-for-purpose. HR is no different and getting disrupted too. It will not exist for the purpose it does today. HR has to find a new avatar – an enabler to CEO’s business objectives and a workforce consultant to the organization – be it a digital workplace, employer brand, talent attraction, development, and retention. The industry will witness a birth of a “new” function having DNA like “People First where Leaders will lead from behind,” agile to the core, technology-led, and business outcome focused.

Q- Could you elaborate further what does this agile business environment mean for different functions of HR – Talent Acquisition, Employee Engagement, Learning & Development etc.?

The impact of workplace disruption is not going to be limited to HR only but will also impact other functions. Some of the changes that I foresee for future of work includes:

  • The digital workplace will be productive with the congruence of HR, IT, Finance, and Real-estate, to deliver the experience that intelligent offices are expected to provide in the future. Workplace as a service is the reality and will become the norm soon.
  • Robotics Process Automation is taking over the mundane tasks, while analytics will get embedded in the operations, streamed directly to the handheld devices of senior leaders, and that too in the integrated and at the enterprise level. Likes of Alexa in the corporates will be the “creative destruction” in making HR contact centers a capability of yesterday.
  • Talent acquisition efforts will go hyper-local especially to attract passive talent – a fusion of art, science, and technology. Employer brand built on leadership, purpose, and employee well-being, will be the critical factors that future employees will consider before taking the plunge. The disruption is so-fast that Talent-barter system will take the front-seat to meet the company business needs and employee’s work purposefulness. This dynamics will force to relax the labor laws further.
  • Learning & development will take the front seat to keep the workforce future ready. A conventional Learning & Development function will not be able to match the speed of the change in the industry. Hence, a new stream of training organizations will evolve as Learning-As-A-Service, bringing cutting-edge channels like VR/AR which will take precedence over traditional training channels.
  • Talent attracts talent hence employee engagement through Purpose of the work will become one of the critical drivers for Talent acquisition and retention. However, business leaders will be the champions of employee wellbeing and employer brand than HR.

Q- Is technology adoption sufficient to drive cultural change of HR becoming a data-driven organization?

Adoption of technology is not the answer for the cultural change. Technology can enable HR to become efficient but may not bring change in behavior. To let change happen, a critical mass of the organization need to adopt new ways of working to cross the tipping point before it becomes the organization DNA. Tech will remove the mundane job from HR and release capacity to invest in core-value added activities.

“Most of the tech solutions provide dashboards and term as analytics – an easy visual of the information which is un-consumable if seen in the raw format is not analytics. It is purely meant to provide information.”

 

Most of the tech solutions provide dashboards and term as analytics – an easy visual of the information which is un-consumable if seen in the raw format is not analytics. It is purely meant to provide information. Being informed is useful but alone can’t change the outcome until we start influencing the decision. I will give you an analogy:

When I look at my money manager dashboard, it informs me about my spend pattern but nothing more than that. It does not influence my next course of action for improved outcome. On the other hand, while filling the car fuel tank at Shell gas station, the attendant asks me – full tank? An excellent example of leading question to influence my decision and outcome for the gas station.

Q- If so, what would you call as people analytics? Can you give us few examples?

In a simple language, I would call the competency as people analytics only. If you are solving a problem that is going to bring a competitive advantage to your organization regarding people risk, talent attraction, brand reputation, altruistic capital, leadership development, and employee experience. If you can’t connect your people analytics outcome in a tangible manner (dollar impact), you are on the reporting track, not analytics. HR has struggled to quantify the function intervention outcomes in financial terms, and people analytics can’t follow the same trail.

Q- If HR is expected to deliver financial impact, why we still don’t see HR KPIs in the annual report?

The business of yesterday was a black box. The outside world used to see what the company CEO want them to know via their annual reports – mostly financial capital of the organization. Also, it never provided sufficient information to stakeholders about
company’s preparedness on sustainable medium-to-long term growth. However, it’s no more valid with the rise of social media and collaboration platforms like Glassdoor, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more. It’s a different world today.

Now, stakeholders can walk-in virtually any time to get the sense of six critical capitals of any organization, i.e., Financial, Manufactured, Intellectual, Human, Social & Relationship, and Natural, and form a holistic opinion about the company and decide to associate or not. Not many, but few innovative companies have started capitalizing analytical processes proactively to provide integrated reporting to demonstrate their company readiness to deliver sustainable growth year-on-year in the future. Interestingly, HR is the custodian of three out of six capitals  – Intellectual, Human, Social & Relationship which forms Human Capital Statement portion of the integrated reporting.

And People analytics can play a critical role in delivering this ask in a consistent, auditable, impactful, and repeatable manner – we call it executive descriptive reporting.

Q- Any concluding remarks?

It’s an exciting time for the organizations and Human Resources function. The speed at which Technological disruption is happening is faster than the pace at which our HR functions are changing. We should stop catching up but think ways to disrupt and be ahead of the change – an era of collective wisdom from the team and functions foundation being technology, learnability, and mobility.

Thank you Manoj!

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