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Automation in HR How Much Is Too Much?

 

By Kinjal Choudhary

The digital revolution is reshaping the way we live and work: from ordering food, to booking a movie or a cab, simplifying daily activities with just a click is the norm today. We have access to loads of information from around the world available within seconds. Not only availability, but also the fact that I can ask about anything and can make a contribution by sharing my views immediately on various social media platforms is very exciting.

Think of the moment your smartphone battery dries up! One may get a feeling that life has come to a complete halt!! So saying that technology has made deep inroads into our daily lives will not be an exaggeration.

Similarly on the work front, due to the digital revolution, there is a fundamental transformation in the way business happens – changing relationships with customers, more frequent innovations, driving new channels, products and services, breaking down the walls between industries, in many cases, is forcing leaders to rethink the business model. Organizations that are able to adapt to this continuous and at times disruptive change and innovate accordingly in time would be the ones to survive.

While this change has been rapid and has made faster progress in other functions like Finance, Sales and Marketing, sadly it has rather taken a slow pace in making its way to the HR function. Even then, I have observed, an increased inclination towards adapting this change by both global HR leaders and CEOs.

This new digital transformation at workplace is forcing us to rethink of HR as a function: how we design programs, the tools we use, and how we roll out and communicate solutions. I am of the view that there are two parts to this digital revolution:

Technology/Automation of HR processes: This is a very positive change which is prominent in organizations where most key processes have got automated. Many organizations have introduced various HR tools and applications to minimize “Non Value added- NVA” activities of the HR team and in turn achieve higher engagement and productivity for the team.

There are in-house tools that are a one stop shop for all HR processes. It’s a platform where employees can have access to any of the HR processes and it also provides features that enable employees to voice their opinions, share ideas, post queries etc.

It’s natural that some tasks that were previously carried out by people have been replaced by automation starting from onboarding to the complete lifecycle. This provides for larger bandwidth to the HR fraternity to collaborate and interact with business and employees by creating better employee experience and providing a higher value proposition to them.

HR analytics: This is relatively new to the HR fraternity where leaders are slowly realizing the importance and leveraging big data in HR which can inturn be used to influence strategic business decisions.

I would like to start by sharing a very interesting definition of HR analytics by (Heuvel & Bondarouk, 2016) – “It is the systematic identification and quantification of the people drivers of business outcomes”. In simple words, it is a data-driven approach towards HR. By using HR analytics you don’t have to rely on gut feeling anymore but it enables HR professionals to make data-driven decisions.

HR analytics can be applied to almost all facets of HR; be it a recruitment channel to use for sourcing or identify and understand drivers of employee engagement, to be able to predict future training needs for employees, predict retention etc. Organizations are moving towards HR Analytics though at a slow but steady pace. Employee engagement surveys and attrition analysis are two favorite areas on which most of the HR folks apply HR analytics.

Why is technology vital?

Not only are we going through digital revolution (a lot is being written around its comparison to industrial revolution) but there is also change in the talent force joining the workplace. With the millennials becoming a larger chunk of the workforce, technology and analytics play a greater role right from the stage of recruitment to onboarding and the entire lifecycle of the employee. This is the generation that has been most exposed to technology, has grown up with various social media platforms and exposing them to a work environment with minimum automation or technology usage in our processes might lead to disengagement of this new workforce and hence technology and big data shall be the engagement drivers for the new workforce entering the workplace. Organizations can also leverage from the fact that the new generation entering the workplace is very technology savvy and their orientation would be improving business processes.

To conclude, digitization not only streamlines the trajectory of an organization but also elevates success and growth, from micro to macro level. Therefore, technology and big data have emerged as the need of the hour today, a game changer for HR personnel across sectors and industries.

 

Kinjal Choudhary

Senior VP and CHRO
VE Commercial Vehicles

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