Article (January-2018)


Are HR professionals ready to take the wheel for ride?

Vinod Bidwaik

Designation : -   CHRO & Vice President - HR

Organization : -  Alfa Laval India Private Limited, Pune


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You have a big threat. Threat of being left behind. The business situation is challenging. Shareholders are asking more. CEOs are under the pressure of delivering top-line and bottom-line also. We speak about long term sustainability but don't have the patience to wait for long term. Are HR professionals ready to take the wheel for ride? The business trends are disturbing & accelerating. It seems technology is advancing at an even faster rate than we expected. Many of us are already experiencing effects of these changes. We're expected to do far more than our predecessors.
What are top HR trends expected in 2018. I am optimistic. Over a period, business is expecting much more from HR. But don't be too cozy about HR automation or HR analytics. There are all tools. I personally feel that we should understand what is relevant to us and our business. Technology companies have their own marketing gimmicks to create the need of technology. Hence think twice about the relevance and context. 
Everybody is speaking out three trends in business and HR. These are :
1. Use of Augmented reality : Augmented intelligence, combination internet and reality, is a reality. This technology can be used for simulation in learning & development, identifying the talent in development centers (or assessment centers), rewarding employees through gamification etc. companies are already using Augmented Reality In business; gaming, automobile industries and warehouse management are some examples.  
2. Artificial intelligence : AI is taking your jobs. My bold statement is we don't need recruiters for hiring junior staff, if some developer develops the app for interview. It works like this… candidate downloads App; he answers questions, plays some logical and aptitude game, robots in App interviews the candidate. The App gives rating and report is submitted to the hiring manager. Finally, shortlisted candidates are called for final interaction and that's the end of recruitment coordinator. 
3. Automation : You know what I mean, exactly robots will take your jobs which are repetitive nature and where high precision is required. 
However, will this happen is 2018…perhaps companies will start thinking to implement these technological changes if they see the return on the investment. If there is a cost advantage then it will be difficult to retain jobs. MNCs are already doing this. 
So? Again? 
We need to focus more on value creation. All technology is based on the fundamental of input processed by machine for the output. I see 2018, companies will focus more on "inputs" to the business by identifying the talent and developing them to give the right "Inputs" to the machine. 
I have listed few trends which are expected in 2018 are as under :
1. Focus on talent to continue : Earlier everybody used to speak about the talent. Now it is not about the talent, but RIGHT talent. Companies have to invest in the systems and processes where they can identify right talent either within the company or outside the company. HR professionals needs to ask few question to the business and top management about the critical & right talent and sometimes challenge them, support them in identifying the right criteria, assessment tools etc. 
2. Employee experience : Employee satisfaction, employee engagement is still there & every company should track the satisfaction level and engagement score of their employees. But more that this is what experience companies give to employees is important. There can be different tools like smart workspace and tools, open offices, open door policy, creating the transparent and trustworthy atmosphere in the company. However, HR role is not just copy paste it but check the real value employee is creating to the business and motivation them to continue the same.   
3. Internal communication : Your internal communications create the standard for how you want your employees to interact with each other and the customers they serve. They shape your workplace culture, which becomes reflected in your brand. And they play a key part in the nurturing and retention of top talent. Do you have your communication strategies in place? It includes what you (top management) communicate, how you communicate and what tools you use to communicate. Sometimes companies over communicate as there are easy tools available like social media. Internal communication will have the positive or negative impact on employee experience. Choose right approach.
4. New way of working : Yes….All this technology will make your life simple or complex depending upon your approach. There are companies who implemented technology changes and adopted some high end software and HR models have already created complexity and removing controls from one person to different people. New way of working has some example like
a. Gig economy : In Gig economy, temporary positions are created and organizations make contracts with independent workers for short - term engagements. If company can't afford employee for full time, they can hire somebody for short term or even part time and then this resource can be shared with multiple companies. 
b. Co-sharing : A shared office space (or "co-working" space) is an abstractly defined location where individuals from multiple businesses can engage in work. In many cases, members of a shared workspace will pay a monthly membership fee, almost like a gym, for regular access to the building, and premium charges for accommodations like meeting rooms or 
special equipment. This concept is not new, we know Regus offices. However, it will be the way of working with cost effective options for mass number of employees.
These trends are evolving in India. It will take time to make it actionable, however, good news is there is a mindset happening.