Economic Times HR Excellence Summit 2016: HR Takes A Quantum Leap

By Swetha S

Even as technology permeates every part of our personal and professional lives, the importance of the human touch cannot be underestimated. Organizations today are faced with an incredible number of pressures like environmental stresses, rapid technological transformation, structural modifications that could be due to new organizational alliances, new arrangements and hierarchies, new ways of assigning work, and a very high rate of change.

Likewise, changes are also reflected in their workforce - shift in employees' priorities, capabilities, and demographic characteristics.


All business entities, public or private sector, commercial or not-for-profit, can significantly benefit from the implementation of an efficient Human Resource Management. This is because their common dominator is that they all employ, manage and develop their people to optimize the performance of their organizations.

Needless to say, these alterations require a dynamic change in how the human resource functions in these companies. Since it is the people that make an organization and not the other way around, HR's role is becoming increasingly complex and critical in helping businesses navigate through these transitions. It is indeed a huge challenge to understand the mindset of the global workforce, to retain the best talent and to keep them sufficiently motivated to perform better while maintaining unity.

Economic Times HR Excellence Summit 2016

This becomes most challenging in the present times when explosion in the use of technology has drastically reformed the business environment. Thus changing the role of an HR professional from a screener for new employees and crusader of HR policies to a change facilitator and planner. They have different roles today; those of mentors, coaches and planners who help motivate the entire organization as a whole.

The Economic Times HR Excellence Summit focused on celebrating excellence in HR with an emphasis on key issues like up-skilling HR management and strategies to nurture the workforce of tomorrow. By bringing leading HR practitioners under one roof, the Summit looked to nudge professionals in the right direction and help HR win the recognition it deserves, with businesses recognizing its true potential in becoming the backbone of future growth.

The event also saw several leaders and thinkers from the HR world, whose work has taken HR management a step ahead in being recognized as a pivot for their respective businesses, felicitated for their untiring efforts.

It is clearly time for HR to make a quantum leap forward, and we define the measures needed to derive improved performance out of the organizations of tomorrow.

Creating improved employee experiences

The future of talent retention hinges on creating a world class experience for employees.

It is a common practice for companies to approach the issue of retaining key employees by upping the table stakes and offering increased financial incentives to these star performers. But is money the be-all and end-all for these employees? Very often, money is only a part of the larger issue, for money is not the panacea for everything. Sometimes it's about understanding the employee experience better and what it would take to create a richer, fuller experience for each employee of the organization, not just the high performers.

Economic Times HR Excellence Summit 2016

The time has arrived for HR to try and map the employee experience so that they can better understand any given talent's perception of the company and how to better manage them. More critically, understanding their behavior will help companies deliver better business outcomes on a more consistent basis. It's all about changing the way HR views things to see things from the employee's perspective, for doing so can help deliver a competitive advantage that is hard to top.

Ultimately, it is the employee experience that shapes attitudes, which in turn affects behaviors and which concomitantly makes its impact felt on the bottom line. It is a domino effect that is quite clear in retrospect, but one that has to be managed fully. The employee experience goes far beyond merely the experience any given user has within the HR ecosystem; it all boils down to focusing on the nitty gritties that shape employee attitude, such as automated administration mechanisms, employee-friendly processes, and ensuring salaries are paid out in a transparent and speedy manner. Even minutiae such as this can greatly impact the employee experience.

Integrated HRM system support is thus an essential part of creating a positive employee experience. Using an array of disconnected tools in isolation will create a disconnected, inconsistent employee experience. The Cloud doesn't make integration any easier. An example of this is using disparate cloud solutions that don't play well with each other. Standalone solutions such as these see low adoption rates simply because of the clear disconnect they have, so offering an integrated solution that eases the employee experience is of the essence.

As the modern employee samples a wider range of opportunities and expects more than ever from his job, managing the employee experience is of paramount importance. It is thus time for companies to take stock and take a new approach to talent management if need be.

Continuing importance of the human factor

Technology might have evolved dramatically, but we simply can't trade off the human touch

The advent of computers and the internet has vastly improved the quality of our lives, and while HR is not left untouched by this, the human touch simply cannot be traded off.

Be it in terms of recruitment, training, talent management or performance management, the growth of HR too has been spurred on by the digital revolution. With data-mining, talent search and hiring tech all now available, organisations are keen to roll out these systems in an effort to improve the functionality of HR. While technology has the potential to add real value to the HR function, as long as it is implemented in the right way, the human factor of HR is still of critical importance.

Economic Times HR Excellence Summit 2016

Even as technology pervades our lives, human skills are becoming increasingly important, especially in the light of frenetic and profound change. As companies are required to become more responsive and data-driven, management skills are all the more of the essence.The more astute companies have made the HR department astrategic partner that shapes this, and the modern HR leader boasts an array of skills no function can as yet duplicate: a balance of authority, insight, analytic ability, political acumen, diplomacy and approachability - to name just a few. This makes the human touch central to a great employee experience and organizational growth.

A skilled HR leader weaves disparate elements together and creates the fabric for a stronger organization, executing key policies and introducing technologies that streamline and grow the business. The emergence of 'Big Data' and cloud computing has meant that there is a wealth of information available to inform high-level decision-making, but there still needs to be a human to process all that information and make sense out of the data at his disposal.

The importance of finding and nurturing the right talent can also not be overestimated in an age of flux. Personnel costs take up a large portion of a company's budget and retaining key employees is vital for businesses to progress. This alone alludes to the importance of the human factor.

Digital tools and techniques will continuously evolve, but the need for highly skilled HR professionals to make the best use of them and equally talented managers to make the most of the workforce is something that is not going to change anytime soon.

Also Read: Why is the world moving towards disruptive HR practices?

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