HR has steadily moved away from only managing databases to adopting artificial intelligence programs. The shift, as experts predict, would let the HR engage with employees more freely and delve into career coaching and counseling, leading to more meaningful interactions within the organizations.
However, there still seems to be doubts and confusion with regards to the adoption of technology, and the question, ‘Will technology make HR less human?’ does not seem to go away.
Mr Ravi Shankar, CHRO, HCL Systems said that though as humans we expect HR to be human in its engagement, it is actually not feasible for large organizations. For that matter, in those circumstances, it is technology that comes to the rescue and enables the HR to interact with the employees on one to one basis, either through emails or more recently through chat.
The world has changed
Even more importantly, he highlighted that the outside world where all of us our customers, is changing, while the world within the office is yet to catch up. He compared it to yesteryears when Blackberry was the latest technology and then came the iPhone which changed the rules, and all of a sudden people had a lot more control as the companies encouraged them to bring their own devices. Something similar is now happening with data. We have faster networks at home which are portable and personal, and in many of the bigger organizations, we are being asked to carry them to the offices.
Learning from the customer management experience
But apart from the evident gap in technology which is used at home and at work, there is also a considerable difference in experience when it comes to personal and professional lives. Today, when we book a cab, we don’t have to think about it 24 hours in advance, we can simply pull out our phones and tap on them and we have on our doorstep.
But as Ravi Shankar pointed out; it is extremely important to learn from customer experience and to think of ways in which this experience would get imbibed in our work cultures, and especially when it comes to employee engagement. It is important that we start treating the employees as customers, especially because they are ones with whom the HR is interacting day and day out. Case in point, onboarding programs need to be continuous like it happens in an organization like Amazon, wherein they take care that the bombardment of expectations from an onboarding perspective should not annoy the person in question. For that matter, there needs to be an emphasis on providing the specific know-hows to the new joinees as and when required.
Also, in the roundtables was shown a clip of Mark Zuckerberg and his announcement with regards to the utilizing the capabilities of artificial intelligence to create a unified interface with the objective of giving out information, which in this context could be about HR policies. For example, one could simply ask the chatbot about the balance leave and the person would not have to leave the window to access his calendar because he would get the answer on his screen in the chatbot window.
Before we implement many of the technological changes to either our existing platforms or create new ones, we need to keep to understand our customer (which is the company employee in our case) that most importantly, he would want on-demand service and convenience. And technology which is built from the perspective of engaging the employee has to keep these two pointers in mind.
Improving HR process efficiency
As already mentioned, adoption of newer technology would enable more meaningful conversations among the HR and other employees, but this can only happen when the HR processes itself are optimized. Case in point, the employee appraisal system which requires both the employee and the line manager to remember the last 365 days, but if the employee created a journal for himself and puts in data about his progress in a software, it would, the whole processing would hardly take half an hour and also generate actionable points for the manager.
The audience was then divided into groups and indulged into a separate discussion on the different themes such as onboarding, succession planning, learning and development. The groups shared their expectations from technology with regards to the same. Ravi Shankar spoke on how most of the activities within this could simply be automated and the communication made more efficient.
Using intelligent chatbots
The last session of the day was the workshop conducted by Sandeep Ray, Ramco Systems explaining how best to make use of the chatbot that has been created by Ramco Systems. He also highlighted that it important to change the behavior and which can most effectively happen if the change required is incorporated in the business process. And also highlighted that all technological systems are extremely intuitive and learn from human-machine interaction to get better at their job. And the best part, it is all there in that window and does not require one to download multiple apps.
In the end, the purpose of the evolution of technology is not to replace the human touch but to assist the HR and ensuring that they have the time and freedom to interact with the employees much more meaningfully using technology.