Article (December-2021)


Business HR : HR innovations should deliver sharp and tangible value to business

Sameer Nagrajan

Designation : -   Global President-HR

Organization : -  Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd.


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What accounts for HRM innovations beyond the technology intervention?

SN HR is first about behaviours at the workplace: individual, team and organizational. Technology is at best an enabler and support function. The focus of the function rightly is always on behavior modification, simplification, capability development and growth. These are the main drivers of HR innovation, regardless online or offline.

Why should HR lead the innovation agenda in the organisation? 

SN HR has a critical role to play in leading the innovation agenda. First, innovation is a people led activity and even the brightest of ideas can remain just that, an idea, or even worse can fail if there are not enough ideation and execution capabilities in the organization. This capability development is a unique area of HR contribution. Second, engaging with the coalface of innovation will help HR sharpen its image as a strategic business partner, adding tangible value to the business, and help cement the seat for HR at the strategic table. Third, given the evolution of business models to more service-based and resource-sharing networks, away from the classical manufacturing brick and mortar model, means that the focus on people and their capabilities will only grow. In a rapidly VUCA world, leading the innovation agenda will be critical for the growth and redefinition of the function.

At what stage do you consider the HR innovation trend in your sector? 

SN Most of my experience has been in manufacturing and industrial, where the pace of HR innovation and exciting delivery models is picking up rapidly. While the use of cloud based systems has been rapidly evolving in the recent past, AI represents another exciting frontier waiting to be explored. It is heartening to see what several companies are doing in this area to rapidly scale up HR delivery in large organisations. Critically, AI is able to deliver a model that is both high-tech and high-touch, thus assuring employees of tailor made interaction rather than the mass standardization model that cloud and ERP based systems typically delivered.

What kind of challenge does HR face in the organisation when it tries to come up with out-of-the-box ideas, policies and practices?

SN I think the challenges are the same as for any other function. HR is not unique. The single biggest challenge remains to establish metrics for measurement of delivery and impact of initiatives. Too often, HR leaders think of initiatives still in terms of "good for people". While that is certainly a laudable objective, that by itself is not enough. We must be able to show that implementation of an initiative will deliver sharp and tangible value to the business. This value must also be seen relative to the costs involved i.e. ROI and not just benefits per se. Unless HR leaders get this framework right, they risk being relegated to the bottom of the priority list, and in a crisis, the HR initiative will then be the first to be cancelled. 

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About the Author : Sameer Nagarajan currently is Global President-HR at Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Ahmedabad. He has been in strategic partnering roles for last more than 15 years. MBA in HR from XLRI. He has worked in Novartis, A.F. Ferguson & Company, Unilever and Dabur.