The world around us is rapidly changing and HR function in India is changing with it. However, this relentless sea change is most perceptible across two fronts: technology and society. With the exponential advancements in technology, a whole new dimension of possibilities has been unraveled, which allows for systemic developments in existing business models besides being cause for disruption in industries. Moreover, society has substantially evolved over the years, leading to a paradigm shift in people’s attitudes and motivations. But the most important assets at the core of these changes are organization and people. And that is where the HR function comes in. It will be absolutely critical in harnessing and driving these tectonic changes.
With the human resource management sector pitched to hit an estimated $30billion by 2025, the advancements in technology, particularly across the realms of machine learning and artificial intelligence, will inadvertently be of great use in enabling HR function to perform its practices with far greater ease and significantly higher efficiency. However, this does come with its own set of challenges. With companies investing more and more in emergent technologies, concerns about their optimal use are bound to emanate as well.
According to a report by KPMG, nearly 50% of HR leaders feel uncomfortable in fully making use of the existing technology available to them. Therefore, there will be a requirement for the HR function to upskill employees, in addition to hiring already skilled workers, to fully capitalize on the technological surge. Particularly, the HR function will have to develop more stringent policies that will embrace and encourage the use of automation and other technological advancements to maximize growth and enhance performance.
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It has been theorized by researchers that successful automation is impossible without a human-centric approach. It relates the involvement of people with the design and implementation of automation as well as their freedom to use elements of automation directly with the success of the adoption of automation procedures. And so, in planning for the advent of automation in the workplaces of the future, we must incorporate the human elements of the workforce first and foremost. The rapid rate of escalation of technology will be different in the next ten years compared to the transitions of previous eras. And with the growth in the ways of the workplace, the functions of the HR managers will evolve in tandem.
Employment relations evolved over time from formal contracts, which entailed job security, collective bargaining, pay equity etc. to a more psychological approach that focused on employability, engagement, and rewarding human capital. Furthermore, with the growing prevalence of independence within the workforce and gig working, we may see a shift from psychological contracts to entrepreneurial contracts that involve risk sharing, return of investment and value creation, and appropriation dynamics. With this a new HR paradigm will emerge that will allow organizations to utilize the benefits of technology while keeping the individual in the focus and making the best use of their potential.
Shifts in the HR function
In the evolving landscape of the workplace, the HR function will have to engage its employees by defining their purpose within the organization and outlining the purpose of the organization itself in a way that is relevant to the employee. Additionally, the skills developed by the employees will add more value to them. As a result, human resource activities will have to indulge in providing the employees the opportunities to constantly develop their skills and reinvent themselves.
And as employees generate a more fluid skill set, it will inadvertently lead to a more flexible job structure. Resultantly, the future HR professional will indulge in job crafting that would accommodate more unique roles for employees.
With the progress in AI technologies, organizations will be able to make better managerial decisions when it comes to selecting people, owing to the right analytics powered by AI. These analytics will lend a unique insight and aid in making objective, data-based decisions specifically with regards to performance management and talent management.
All the aforementioned changes will eventually lead up to a place that will afford greater autonomy and influence for individual managers. In effect, this will cause the current HR function to diminish and make the organizations empower their managers while also inculcating a culture that is conducive for the same.
The HR Leader of the future
As these changes in the work environment take root, a new avenue of leadership will be emergent; one that will manage the entrepreneurial contracts and navigate the amorphous patterns of expertise and knowledge. This will be the CHRO of the future, who would be responsible for developing a network of diversified and proficient individuals while being aware of the business-technology-consumer-society nexus and creating value through enterprise.
Consequently, this new HR function will require an awareness of the drivers of business strategy as well as a grip on its finer nuances. A successful HR leader will be one who can utilize eclectic knowledge in an interdisciplinary fashion to leverage value from unexpected quarters for more sustainable decisions.
Moreover, the HR’s core functionality will also mutate from merely being a support system for employees to actually facilitating a culture that engenders a sense of inclusivity and respect for all employees and helps them find purpose and realize their potential. This culture of inclusivity and diversification will inevitably become a priority. And as businesses rapidly ramp up, change and transformation will be the only constant, enforcing the HR function to drive said transformations by keeping an ear to the ground with regards to external changes and implementing them within the microcosm of the organization.
In summation, the overarching theme of these megatrends in HR is the necessity of developing a more human perspective within organizational processes and decision-making. And coupled with the strides in automation and technology, this human-centric approach will be the key to making the best use of technological resources as more and more organizations will focus on the ‘human’ aspect of human resources function.
- “The HR Function in India in 2030 and The Future CHRO” | National HRD Network
- “The future is now: The changing role of HR” | Prakash Rao | The Economic Times | March 2, 2019
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