BM: Do you think HR has been able to become a serious business partner in 2017 - something that was a buzz for several years now?
PV: The HR Business Partner (HRBP) is a crucial role within an organization and is responsible for aligning people and management with the overall business objectives. The position serves as a consultant to the management for human resource - related issues.
Economies and businesses began 2017 with an ambiguous outlook, subject to effects of demonetisation in India and a new administration under the leadership of Donald Trump in the US. These factors pushed HR leaders across the country to closely watch business performances and job scenarios of various sectors, the IT/ITES and manufacturing sectors in particular. Further, enhancing the engagement levels of talents became priority, finding place on top of the business curve.
As we all know, a successful HRBP acts as an employee champion and a change agent. HR professionals were able to scale new heights. They became serious business partners in 2017 helping to mitigate several economic challenges, while meeting and sustaining both business and people goals.
BM: Do you think HR transformation is important in this technological age? If yes, why?
PV: In general, I have observed that business leaders prioritize HR systems in line with sales and operations. In such a scenario, HR systems are considered as internal to the organisation similar to the sales or operations systems.
Few companies operate with HR legacy systems and the thought of adopting latest technology moving to the new from the old, can be overwhelming. Some companies have multiple systems for different areas of HR, such as one system for training purposes, another for compensation and benefit packages, and yet another for employee performance reviews.
If HR departments do not adapt and embrace new digital technologies, they run the risk of becoming obsolete, which could deter some potential employees in today's tech - savvy market. Hence, HR transformation is very important in this technological age.
BM: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in 2017 to take HR transformation to the next level?
PV: Change is constant and technology advancement is further propelling the need for change for businesses in the recent past. This trend forces organisations to embrace an innovative culture to meet the speed of change. It also has a direct impact on talent management. HR transformation has become inevitable in order to achieve the requisite business outcomes.
In the last decade, HR as a function has done a commendable job of transforming itself from a transactional, cost - centric function to a transformational, business and strategic partner. This transformation was much faster in comparison to the evolution of other traditional functions in the corporate world. However, some of the areas that HR needs to focus, to further progress in this transformational journey are as follows:-
a. Workforce Intelligence : Workforce analytics, planning i.e. what is going on with the workforce and what should we do in the future?
b. Change Consultant : From being a manager or leader managing the HR levers like recruitment, performance management, etc., the next level of HR transformation that is missing is progressing from a solution - finder to an executioner. While HR professionals are capable of understanding and articulating the need of change, transformation etc., executing the same by adopting the role of a change consultant is the need of the hour. Taking charge of change and driving it with a process - consultative approach, using technology and available workforce intelligence/analytics is very critical.
c. Being Current : HR transformation is a continuous process. Systems and processes that worked well in the yester years may not be efficient to manage today's business and talent goals. Complementing new age workforce for their inherent talent and respecting the experience of Gen X and Gen Y in managing business and people scenarios is the key for collaborative transformation. Merely holding on to past success stories or creating ambitious business visions will not support HR from moving to next level of transformation. HR needs to work in line with the current realities of business challenges and balance a smooth transformation of the entire HR function as well.