Human Connect & Technology – The Future of HR

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The human mind has always posed a challenge and relationships continue to remain dynamic and unpredictable. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence and Digitalization, much work has already been done to map the human brain and psychology mostly in order to arrest and predict a behavioral pattern and finding a solution to managing similar work situations. The derivative of the above is visible much in the form of psychometric instruments coming into play in the form of MBTI, PPA analysis, 16 PF, Emotional Intelligence test, Reasoning test, Work styles, Belbin, etc. The quest to be a God (ability to predict, control and manage future) has continued and response to stimuli is more a matter of traditional style.

Another factor that has continuously influenced the thought process is smart working – a bid to make hard work seemingly easy and much productive, thus diverting routine activity involving repetitiveness and more time being spent on larger and meaningful burning issues. IT solutions to these have evolved in almost all walks of HR – Employee Information, Payroll, Compensation & Benefits, Talent Management – Acquisition, Lifecycle Management, Performance Review, Training & Development, etc. IT platforms from different vendors boasting of diverse competencies are much afloat highly automated and with crystal clear workflows. Performance logics have been worked with utmost care reducing human intervention to the minimum.

The face of HR has dramatically changed, therefore, the skill requirements. The competencies that one looks for more in the middle and lower HR management profiles are robustness in IT interventions supporting HR. Management and psychology qualifications are more desirable than essential. Mistakenly Corporates have started questioning whether HR will be required at all and that AI could manage its processes and people.”

On the other hand, the other extreme realization that has evolved in the matured businesses is the importance of HR at the senior-most levels. HR Business partnering has become more integral and Chief Executives – the biggest HR managers. HRBP’s are more sought after – individuals with extreme sensitization towards the direction the organization is moving and defining its vision and goals with the values the organization should adapt. The old mindset of HR being a service function has already seen the wind. Fundamentally, the earlier focus on profits as the ultimate goal of the business organizations has now silently and more importantly been replaced with – “It’s all about people”. 

People-focused organizations are no more seen as inward-looking. Importance of its most valuable asset – employees, has clearly dawned and so also their upkeep and maintenance – engagement, growth, and development.  HR finds a place now in Strategic decision making and also a place on the business organization boards – a place that is still elusive to others as important business functions. Culture building for a new organization or organization evolved due to organic growth, HR sets the tone of the environment in which business will be conducive and successful.  The debate on well being of its people assets being directly proportional to the growth of the business organization is still open and being researched though.

The Vision of the organization, Performance Management, Succession Planning, Career Planning, Employee Dipstick – Engagement/ Satisfaction, Counselling, Mentoring, Coaching, Employee Feedback, have tools to make the process easier but the process itself cannot be replaced and needs human intervention. Constant employee lifecycle reviews to understand and track growth and development could be digitized but have to be interpreted by people who are experts in understanding where the same is leading. Development Centres & Assessment Centres, 360 Degree appraisals or Stakeholders Analysis are developmental tools much being practiced today but the heart and the soul behind it can be well understood by human beings only behind it.

The vision of the organization, key objectives leading to achieving the vision, cascade of the pillars of these key objectives, review, and control could well use a balanced scorecard technique but can this be digitized remains to be seen. The process sensitization involves mass socialization so that the last employee of the organization is aligned with the sense and purpose of his existence in the organization and inherent role he is playing.

Performance Appraisals lead to identifying high performance and high potential employees, Talents, individual contributors/ solid soldiers, technical experts in the organization which are an inherent feed to the Succession Planning. However, the intricate decision on the right succession for the key positions involves a better understanding of the overall business and the individual to be the right fit in years to come. The feed from the performance appraisal cycle is only an input.

The development of an employee has to be suitably bundled into a 70:20:10 principle – On the job: Coaching/ mentoring: Training, respectively, and these are areas that may utilize computerized tools but cannot replace human intervention. Simulators could be used for technical skill development. Business simulations give guidance to behaviors and patterns but not the solutions. The employee needs to use the learning based on understanding developed.

Talent Acquisition has reached to a pinnacle where one to one meeting has been replaced by Video interviews, recorded interviews, telephonic interviews and Corporates hiring in masses are resorting to these. Tests used to the screening of candidates are more online now whether checking on knowledge, intelligence, the behavior of the candidate. Face to face interviews are only now relegated to final selection or have been completed done away with. While these tools have increased the speed of resourcing, the quality of incumbent many times may be compromised leading to a digressed behavioral pattern that may or may not be adapted to the values of the organization. Even the psychometric tools used are clearly advised as reference tools by the publishers and advised not be used in isolation.

HR analytics has become much simpler with the advent of technology and reliable data is easily available. Its interpretation and better use depends on the skills of Human resources professionals.

We have achieved good inroads by using the technology in Human Resources processes, but we need to constantly analyze our requirements in the business and adapt it suitably. The intervention that works for one organization may not be suitable and adaptable to another organization 100%. The human resources team needs to decide on the extent and depth of the technology to be used and what it needs to shop for so that quality of output provided relating to its resources – “the people” is not compromised.  

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Manish Gour is General Manager & Head HR & Operational Excellence at Larsen & Toubro, Heavy Engineering Division. Manish is a seasoned HR professional with rich experience of more than 30 years in Human Resources and has managed the function across different lifecycles of business. He has handled Global and Regional HR positions and was represented on the Board of Directors in his past organization. He has lead the Industrial Relations, CSR, Administration, Security, Ethics & Compliance functions during the years with many organizations. Prior to L&T he has worked for organizations like Alstom, JCB, SM Dyechem, Crompton Greaves, Kores India and Atlas.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Very well written.

    I believe that still the human touch is required and you can use as much as technology as you want.

    But that one meeting with employe can bring alot of change in the way of their working.

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