Priyanshi Awasthi | Talent Business Analyst | Deloitte US India
I had an interest in economics and was always curious about the business world, right from my last few school years, and I did think it was all about the idea, advertising, revenue and profits at first. But as the choice of pursuing a formal business degree firmed up over time, I came to read a handful about the HR field and how it has embarked on an interesting transformation journey ever since Dave Ulrich’s approach in 1997 shook things up and made the shift from “personnel” to “human resources” possible. The challenging nature of this field and the immense value it adds to businesses, especially in a service economy like India where employees are the most critical resource and also a distinct competitive advantage, is what drew me in. The prospect of shaping the culture and thus in turn, the future, of an entire organization, excited me then and excites me still.
Points of differentiation
While some of my innate traits of empathy, emotional intelligence, negotiation and decision making have held me in good stead in the first few years of my career in HR, my focus for the past year and a half has been on becoming “tech-savvy”. While a good chunk of it has been becoming aware of disruptive cutting-edge technologies that have or are likely to make their way into HR, I have made greater efforts towards becoming fluent in data analytics techniques that can generate extremely valuable HR insights.
My interest in analytics was piqued with the first job of my career which started in Mu Sigma, a pure-play analytics firm, and 4 years later I found myself amused when I explored what it can accomplish for the HR field. I’ve since then invested free time in reading on the latest in HR analytics, brushing up statistics, learning analytics techniques in MS Excel through MOOCs and open source videos and my latest ongoing endeavor is to learn R, which I have started by first experimenting with its GUI interface, Rattle. Basis my personal exposure to my colleagues and batchmates in HR, I feel there aren’t enough data/tech-savvy HR managers out there and the ability to marry HR domain experience and data-science is certainly going to be a significant differentiation point. This intersection is exactly the space I want to carve out for myself in the HR field.
Biggest Talent Priority to solve
In any and every HR professional’s world, new HR initiatives are floated by HR teams and results are reported as successful or not so much. In most cases, the measures of success for these initiatives aren’t defined in terms of key metrics that matter to the business. A thorough understanding of our business, how key business metrics are calculated, how they correlate with tangible HR metrics is also not pervasive in most HR teams. Hence, my biggest talent priority would be for us to quantify the impact of our talent strategy and the interventions therein on the business’s bottom-line.
The one thing I will retain in HR
At every touchpoint, the experience that an employee has of HR is not just the content of the message being communicated, the % hike they get or any other data, information or decision we share with them – it is about the feeling the person goes out with. Thus, in an increasingly automated and technology-dependent HR world, it would be imperative to retain that human touch which comes only to us because of our EQ and our understanding of the unique context in which things play out. No chatbot can, and should, ever replace that. Employee intimacy needs to be retained in HR.
The one thing I will change in HR
HR needs to become more agile and constantly reinvent itself. With Gen Z starting to hit the workforce which already comprises of more than 50% millennials, it is important to not be too caught up in policies, protocols and rigid black and white rules. Learning to operate in the grey and allowing flexibility and a customizable working experience to each employee is a much-needed change in future HR leaders and managers
Vision for HR's future growth
As with most business domains impacted by automation and disruptive technologies, HR’s future growth will rest upon the strategic value, contextual marketplace insights and tacit knowledge it brings to the business. As the lower and middle end of our current scope of work slowly gets automated through bots or delivered through open talent channels (the gig economy), HR of the future will be lean, agile, specialized and even closer to top business leadership providing proactive guidance rather than acting towards and aligning with a pre-decided top-down strategic direction.
As career boundaries get blurred with more fluid and non-linear career paths, HR professionals will also become more multi-disciplinary, more tech-savvy and will have to rely on machine learning to predict and carve employee journeys better. Also, we will have to completely rethink our traditional ways of employee engagement or even the way we hunt and hire talent, because the way Gen Z functions is drastically different.