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Preserving the Human Aspect of HR!

By Ankita Singh, Vice President & Global Head - HR, CIGNEX Datamatics

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Ankita Singh, Vice President & Global Head - HR, CIGNEX Datamatics

With client-focused approach, CIGNEX Datamatics has delivered over 500+ enterprise solutions that help clients address business goals, increase business velocity, lower the cost of doing business, reduce TCO and gain competitive advantage. Its clients include 50 of Fortune 1000 and 100+ companies with over billion dollar in revenues.

There has been a massive transition in HR in last few decades where we have seen HR shifting from transactional HR to strategic HR. According to me, technology has helped HR in taking that leap forward. It has further embraced, enabled & enhanced human interaction and engagement. Technology has not replaced human touch but it has created the space that allowed HR to move away from systems and sheets and invest in employees and bigger organizational goals.

It is very important to know potentials and limitations of both human touch and technology and find the right and required mix. They need to co-exist and complement each other to accomplish defined strategic vision.

Employees still strive for human interaction. After all, we are social creatures. Workforce management needs attributes like empathy, customization, understanding, adaptation, flexibility, creative problem solving, and abil­ity to build trust and for now humans can exhibit these attributes & qualities NOT MACHINES.

• If we ever call a call center, we may most likely get our question transferred to a human operator because the machine may not understand all our questions
• Even autopilot disengages itself in the event of ex­treme turbulence and the pilot will be alerted to take over control of the plane.

AI can do ALMOST everything a human can do, not EVERYTHING!

And when smartest of AI machines can’t manage without humans, how can humans manage without that connect and touch!

Having said that, there are many areas where ma­chines perform much better than humans. These areas range from processing vast quantities of data with speed & accuracy, managing, automating, and streamlining the entire process chain of basic HR activities such as pay­roll, leave and attendance management. Dehumanization of HR to an extent is not negative but required. The shift towards a more automated workforce is inevitable. Effec­tive technology and its wise use can increase efficiency, manage mundane and routine tasks and enable talented and skilled HR employees to focus on strategic business needs such as retention, training, change management & succession planning. Machine should be used as a HR process re-engineering tool.

A: Accept 
Accept that change is needed and technology will bring improvements in speed, service and quality.
D: Discover 
Discover the pain areas and need to define and make logical shift. Gather data and explore all possibilities.
A: Analyze
Analyze the possibilities, aptness, method and gaps to be able to find best combination of man and machine.
P: Plan 
Plan well. Be clear and focused on why, what, when and how!
T: Task 

Task to closure! Communicate, implement and measure. AND keep reassessing, redefining and redesigning! Algorithms will continue to beat human judgment and make much better assessments in various contexts. Coach your team members to do what humans can do best and use technology as a tool to accomplish goals. Capitalize on the strengths of machines to enhance your relationship with your employees. Replace major part of your trans­actional role with AI and make HR a STRATEGIC PART­NER. Man-Machine collaboration has already improved a lot in HR.

How to find that right balance between human touch and technology?

• Most important of all, accept and be ready for continu­ous need to change, adopt and adapt.
• Identify what all can and should be automated so team can focus more on engagement & development.
• Identify need for change on the basis of Organization’s needs and VISION, not just HR department’s needs.
• HR alone should not plan but a synergy among business team and HR is important to identify how and where au­tomation can help the organization be more productive and competitive.
• When blending between human and technology, plan where to draw the line for each of them. Use technology for all that it can handle (repetitive, technical and methodological) best and humans for all they can perform (creative, emotional & flexible) best
• Have programs that talks about personalizing em­ployee life cycle designed by individuals & HR. Such ini­tiatives will help in maintaining a fair balance between technology & human touch.
• Employees want that human-to-human connection. Technology will always have its limits, and that’s where the human touch has to take over. Have forums and events MEET, TALK & CELEBRATE together.

Human capital will continue to be the most critical asset and its effective management will be crucial to driving sustained competitive advantage. For companies like ours, human touch will be a core part of HR.

Technology coupled with a personal human touch is a double win. If we rely solely on technology, we will miss out on chances to build and maintain meaningful con­nects and engagements. However, without technology, it would be difficult to scale and optimize these connects at a required pace - there’s a reason we have to have a balance! HR particularly has to evolve to take advantage of the opportunities available from the new technologi­cal developments to provide high value adding levels of service. Technology and humans must work together; it can’t be ‘Human Touch Vs Technology’ but ‘Human touch and technology’.

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