|ET: What are the challenges to the HR community in India and how is SHRM India contributing to resolve it?
As we close 2013, it is time to reflect on the year gone by and the challenges that await us in 2014. The recession continued well into this year and shows no clear signs of getting over. Hence the challenges will continue to remain the same – how to optimize workforce, how to clearly link people to business, how to calculate measurable ROI from human capital investments and how to retain mission critical talent. There is a strong need to ensure that the current talent in an organization is highly engaged and motivated, as well as strategically rewarded since cost optimization and increased business growth are both equally important goals for sustainability. Another key challenge is to create a world-class leadership pipeline, which can take the organization to the next level when the markets improve.
SHRM India has been instrumental and at the forefront of advancing the HR profession through its thought leadership, knowledge sharing platforms, panel of experts and reach within the community. At SHRM India, we not only focus on assessing and sharing the future people challenges from a global and India perspective but we also raise the bar of the profession by providing learning opportunities for HR professionals, so that they are better equipped to manage these challenges and make direct contributions to business growth.
ET: How is technology being used in the HR function undertaken by companies today?
AK: Technology is the single-most significant differentiator in the workforce of today and the past. Therefore, our workplaces need to reflect this difference and utilize technology advancements in an optimal manner. The HR function connects the bridge between technology and people. Using technology platforms for key HR processes such as Performance Management System, Payroll processing and so on have been in place for a long time. However, new-age use of technology by the HR function involves Knowledge Management, Recruitment, Peer-to-Peer Learning and Collaboration and evaluating Employee Engagement. For example, there are internal web tools which enable employees across remote locations to connect with each other, share knowledge and collaborate on assignments, thus allowing for seamless exchange of knowledge. There are also tools to assess employee moods during the course of the day. For recruitment, online games have become an assessment tool. So, as one can see there are immense possibilities for HR with respect to technology, provided we understand the pitfalls of the same.
ET: How can HR professionals influence the potential of Gen Y through the power of social media?
AK: With the Gen Y workforce of today, the degree or extent of communication is never enough. Online interactions via social networks such as Facebook, instant messages or office chat tools are very prevalent now. Therefore, driving a holistic internal employee communication strategy is the role that the HR team can play to influence the potential of this generation through social media channels. They can also encourage the managers to maintain a continual flow of information with their teams through such internal tools. Updating about what is happening within an organization, helps in keeping the team motivated.
The other critical role that HR can play to leverage the potential of Gen Y is to empower them to focus on self-learning and development. Learning through virtual platforms is non-negotiable in today's times and HR can play a key role so that these employees attend webinars in their expertise areas, do e-learning courses and join discussion forums on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. Since these employees are more technology savvy they will assimilate the learning faster through such channels.
Finally, HR professionals can build the Employer brand through social media. They can influence the thought process and aspirations of Gen Y through this approach. This can help in attracting the right talent into the firm.
ET: Globally, what are the trends that SHRM has observed in the acquisition and management of talent?
AK: Some key trends in acquisition are related to focusing on new and innovative methods of acquiring talent, workforce planning, hiring metrics and so on. These are all trends which are required to re-align talent acquisition to business needs and goals.
In terms of talent management, key trends are related to having a robust talent identification process, using the right balance of experiential and classroom training for development, creating networks or groups of multidimensional talent and focusing on talent management at all levels instead of just using it as a succession planning approach to develop leaders for potentially key roles in the firm.
ET: You organized a successful conclave of HR professionals recently on 'Empowering Change: Workplace of the Future'. Can you please highlight some of the key deliberations at this Meet?
AK: Considering the current volatile economic climate and globalized markets, our 2013 Conclave focused on the highly relevant theme of ‘Empowering Change: Workplace of the Future'. Among the top companies present were Genpact, Coca Cola, LinkedIn, Yahoo, IBM, ICICI Prudential, KPMG, Monster India, Kingfisher, Raymond, SAP, Flipkart, Sodexo, besides NHRDN and NMIMS and several others.
Our keynoter Ben Casnocha, famous American author and expert on the future of workplaces, underlined that lifetime contracts are certainly not the best bets for agile companies of the future. He mentioned that future-ready corporations will be ones driven by forces like entrepreneurial skills, tours of duty, external networking skills and social media.
We also had a series of panel discussions and concurrent sessions on Emerging Workplace Trends, Global immigration Trends, Intention-based communication, HR Analytics, Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility, HR Transformation, Employee Engagement, and Skill Enhancement leading to plenty of insights and interaction.
From a global perspective on changing workforce trends, shared by one of our leading experts on Diversity, Shirley Davis, the participants learnt how to evolve a strategy for leading real organizational change. The CEOs in the Arena session was a new format which we tried this year for the second time, around the topic How to Turn Your Generosity into Social Responsibility? Intense discussions between Chief Executives and Intelligentsia followed on India’s new, mandatory CSR legislation, challenges of CSR integration into core functions of business, bureaucratic hurdles and value of enforced social welfare measures.
We plan to come back next year with another thought-provoking HR conclave to accentuate the growth of HR and business professionals alike.
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