Delna Dhamodiwala, Vice President HR, Prime Focus World
HR today holds a critical position in the organizations, perhaps more than ever before. It is the entry, exit and intervening point for what can arguably be considered the company’s most valuable asset – it's human capital! Technology and machines are all ultimately operated by individuals – real people – and an appropriately skilled and motivated workforce is the key to an organization’s success in today’s highly competitive environment.
2008 was a defining year for several reasons. It brought us face-to-face with the stark realities of a dynamic and unpredictable business and economic environment. It shook up reticent HR departments to sit up and almost demand a seat at the decision-making table. The “business partner” role took HR from back-end, paper-pushing and policy-enforcing entities to a more participative and inclusive team. Most companies today recognize HR teams as crucial players in determining people management strategies, foreseeing risks and opportunities of hiring, and training and retaining the correct talent mix, and they rely heavily on their expertise for managing Gen Y – the millennial generation entering the workforce.
Traditional HR practices need to be blended with new-age methodologies. Technology abounds today – for HR departments just like any other stream. The emphasis is towards shifting the routine and operational functionalities of HR to either automated systems or outsourced models while retaining some of the traditional approaches for the qualitative aspects of people management. One cannot replace one-on-one interactions or engagement/counselling needs with technology. Hence, the goal should be to free the HR departments from routine tasks and encourage them to spend more time engaging with employees and business heads to truly understand their needs.
While there is a trend emerging to move away from traditional performance review practices, we must push for quantitative productivity measurement techniques such as increasing employee output (volume, speed and quality) vis-à-vis the costs (revenue per employee). This data and these results are crucial for businesses and will reinstate the relevance of HR teams in today’s business-driven environment. It is imperative for HR professionals and departments to constantly update their own skills and knowledge – the influence of social media, the burst of e-commerce and simply access to the global environment via online networks has radically changed how employees think, believe and feel about their employers and their organisations. HR teams need to remain a step ahead at all times.
There’s no denying the power of a valuable network. Whether you’re searching for a job, building a business, seeking a mentor, or simply want to advance your career, alumni networks and related events can be goldmines for uncovering important connections and resources. Whether you’re in or out of the workplace, you’re representing your personal brand in addition to your company’s brand. People will call on you when they think of you – thinking of you has to be facilitated by easy recall. While this is an emerging trend in the Western world, locally we are yet to gain momentum on a mass scale. We are typically an intuitive lot and tend to stick to our instincts when it comes to hiring the right talent. While I think it is completely ethical to turn to data-driven metrics, the reliability and accuracy of data available to us will remain a key factor in determining the success of these methods in India as the accuracy of data can mould the results which are to further influence the approach of HR departments.
Again, we must appreciate at all times that we are dealing with human beings – relying squarely on data without applying our own intellect and intuitiveness would not be recommended. Technology can be both a blessing and a nightmare, especially in the HR space. It is important to not let technology override common sense and obvious logic at times. Today’s HR tech solutions need to keep both the employee (as the end user) and HR departments (as the stakeholder) in mind. When considering an HR tech solution we must ensure that ultimately it makes life easier for the employee. Keeping tech programs flexible and non-rigid is most important. Organizations and businesses change rapidly today – divisions and departments get created or dissolved based on the needs of the business. Hence any tech solution must be dynamic and easy to alter so that it can work in the favour of those using it. Creating a base foundation as a generic program and then letting HR users customize it to their individual company needs would be the optimal solution.
As companies embrace globalization and technology and deal with competitive pressures, local labor markets are constantly evolving and changing – and skills shortages are pushing human resources into the front (and firing) lines of acquiring, developing, and retaining talent. While some HR leaders have transformed their administrative-focused departments to enhance and improve their strategic value to their operational counterparts, many organizations are still catching up. If significant talent management issues go unresolved, the opportunity cost of this to market growth and competitive advantage is huge – and sometimes unacceptable.
HR leaders and departments must evolve by transforming their own focus outward and forward – enabling key business decisions and strategies related to the people that form the backbone of the company. That is the true future and transformation of HR teams. In the years to come, it would be desired to embed technology into HR operations in a way that it brings fluency to the output these teams are bound to give.