Article: The HR Function in 2025

Strategic HR

The HR Function in 2025

Chief People Office of Tech Mahindra, Harshvendra Soin showcased the company’s re-imaginings of the HR function both in the present day and the year 2025.
The HR Function in 2025

Last week, Chief People Office of Tech Mahindra, Harshvendra Soin took the HR Leadership team on a trip to the future. During his presentation, Harsh showcased the company’s re-imaginings of the HR function both in the present day and the year 2025. In this innovative, engaging talk, Harsh called upon the voice of “buddy” Jarvis to illustrate what HR would look like in the coming decades. He also outlined some of the impactful decisions the company has already made this year. “A lot has changed,” Harsh explained, as futuristic images of cityscapes, cobots and rocket launches played across the screen. The opening montage had a startling premise: “HR,” in 2025, “ceases to exist.” 

But things weren’t entirely what they seemed. Humorously reminiscing about “the good old days of 2018 and 2019,” Harshvendra guided the team through Tech Mahindra’s successes - both real and predicted - and expanded on factors such as workforce transitions, life after retirement, workplace wellness, skilling and reskilling, ecosystems and performance reviews. If Harsh’s presentation is any indication, the future seems very bright indeed. 

So what does HR look like in 2025?

Killed traditional HR to build the people function

To begin with, Harshvendra looked ‘back’ to a present-day accomplishment. In 2019, Tech Mahindra “broke the silos and brought in an agile people structure.” This meant they were able to build organizational HR around experiences. This 2019 action has evidently been instrumental in making 2025 a success. As Harsh went on to say, “no longer were we talking about a sub-function in HR. We were talking about experiences.” This proved to be a well-planned workplace disruption, allowing contributions from any employee who had ideas they wanted to share. 

Also this year, Tech Mahindra began to simplify workflows and atomize jobs. “I remember that day, way back in 2019,” Harsh recalled, “everything we did was so tactical, so labor-intensive. We decided we would use more technology to make it more human-centered.” 

By atomizing work and replacing “non-value added” jobs with AI, work in 2025 now looked more contextualized, more team-oriented, fluid rather than predetermined: non-routine, with an increased emphasis on creating meaning and value. Through this, Harsh stated, “we improved our productivity by 60% and cut costs by 40%.”

Stayed ahead of the curve

Their next major advancement, Harsh explained, was to “stay ahead of the curve.” As Harsh stated, “five years ago, in 2019, we trained people after the technology already came in.” In 2019, Tech Mahindra decided instead to track new possibilities in “emerging technologies” and prepare accordingly. Rather than waiting for these technologies - blockchains, AI, Cobots, etc - to appear, in 2025 Tech Mahindra began training employees before these new skills needed to be implemented. “Therefore, the Mahindra group remains more competitive than any other group,” Harsh said.

“We also built an agile organization structure,” Harsh went on, “where people could move across functions and teams seamlessly.” By doing away with “humongous” teams of people, Tech Mahindra was able to transition single employees from one project to another based on their particular skill-sets. This drove down  C&B costs and further heightened the company's ability to be hyper-competitive. 

Rather than relying on a Program Manager, Tech Mahindra continued to use algorithms and atoms to calculate the required resources for each project. “Therefore,” Harsh explained, “we never go wrong and we stay hyper, hyper-competitive.” 

If that weren’t enough, Tech Mahindra also pushed for more self-driven careers and learning. “Like a Coke machine has many different drinks to mix, people can now choose their learning and get hyper-skilled.” As a result of this, 95% of Tech Mahindra’s talent requirements were met internally.

Hyperpersonalization (N=1) 

As in 2019, the Mahindra Group of 2025 focused on creating a personalized experience for every employee. In the future, Harsh explained, every associate’s experience would be considered in terms of “career, compensation, rewards, etc.” Using the term “n=1,” the company reiterated that every single employee of the Mahindra group was “unique.” As Harsh went on to say, “that is so important as people and policies go hand-in-hand.” 

In 2025, performance reviews were also transformed. Rejecting the inefficient, ineffective and “boring” tradition of once-yearly reviews, Tech Mahindra introduced real-time performance check-ins instead. Combined with personalized coaching, this innovation had proved to make a “massive difference.” 

This also allowed the Mahindra group to circle back on “making work meaningful for an alternative workforce.” Focusing on the oft-neglected but essential gig workers and part-time employees, Tech Mahindra used a blockchain to enable instant payments. Even in 2019, this had proved successful and “ultimately brought costs down.” Even more crucially, these changes meant Tech Mahindra had the “highest retention and maximum engagement rates” of any company. It was clear to see these innovations had long-running positive impacts on employee satisfaction as well as growth and productivity.

Created future-focused leadership

Another crucial step in Tech Mahindra’s future success was their spotting emerging roles and working to make sense of them. Not only that but, as Harsh explained, “we linked those roles to future-ready talent and people who were force multipliers.” After that, Tech Mahindra collaborated with academia and start-ups to create a new ecosystem that could identify the best ways to combine new technologies with new roles. 

But what would be the competencies the company followed in 2025? As Jarvis explained, the competencies of 'today’s' leaders included:

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Digital Prowess
  • Customer Centricity
  • Leveraging Human Capital
  • Play to Win
  • Fostering Collaboration

Tech Mahindra in 2025 has the highest value per associate. “In 2019 we were always discussing metrics such as ‘revenue per employee,” Harsh stated said, “[but] now we don’t measure only the revenue per employee, but the value per employee.” This re-emphasized Tech Mahindra’s drive to create meaningful work, representing a groundbreaking development in HR functions.

Intentionally diverse

By 2025, Tech Mahindra has built an intentionally diverse workforce of Cobots and Humans. This is “what made us very, very different,” Harsh explained, working with AI rather than in competition with tech.   

Where does this ‘intentional’ diversity of thought come from? Of course, Tech Mahindra takes into account the usual determining factors of age, gender, race and ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, education level, and socioeconomic status. However, less common factors included were personalities and life experience. “We didn’t want a particular uniformity in our workforce,” Harsh explained. Including these factors allowed them to create a truly personalized and diverse workforce both in 2019 and 2025.

The final say

In Harsh’s closing thoughts, he outlined the “bedrock” of all these projections, and emphasized how innovation doesn’t mean compromising on your values:  “Our culture remained to drive positive change, celebrate each moment and empower all to rise [...] We follow this diligently in 2025 as we did in 2019.”

While Harsh’s presentation kept one eye firmly on the future, these thrilling, hypothetical innovations have begun to seem like not-so-distant realities. There’s little doubt Tech Mahindra have plenty planned for the coming years. Harsh’s predictions also gave an indication of the huge strides the company has already made as they launch K2, humanoid employee number 1, built internally by the Tech Mahindra HR Labs, is it the future or the present we are talking about?

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Topics: Strategic HR, #ExpertViews, #FutureOfWork

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