Technology, automation, changing workforce models, and a diverse workforce are transforming not only the nature of the organization but also the traditional role of the HR department. What will this role look like in the future of work? Will it be replaced or reinvented? And what does it need to do to earn its place in the future of work?
Raj Narayan, SVP and Chief Human Resource Officer, Titan Company Limited, and an HR professional with over 33 years as Head of Human Resources, shares his thoughts with us on the changing role of HR in the future of work.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview-
Do you think your role as an HR leader will continue to exist in the future landscape of work?
I think the role will continue to exist as it is a vital role for any organization. In fact, it will become more critical going forward because the future of work, in my view, will become more complex. The aspirations of people are becoming higher and organizations need to have, first the heart, and second the processes to ensure that those aspirations are understood and met or exceeded.
How can HR prepare for its future role?
People in the past were more tolerant of organizations that did not focus on talent management in the real sense. Therefore today, HR and the manager need to ensure that employees' voices and aspirations are heard. Also, organizations need to have a robust potential management system and identify HiPos and have individual development plans for them. Going forward, organizations also need to look at where do they want to be and what are the capabilities they need to bring to the table.
“The way people are looking at work in organizations is also changing. It may seem far-fetched but it is not far away when people will look at doing different things with their time. I might want to work with company X for 20 hours doing a certain thing and 20 hours with company Y doing something else of personal interest.”
So the concept of permanent employment will continue; however, the number of hours a person is available could come down. How do you manage that mix and make sure that you have enough talent in the pipeline will be important. So the conversations which HR will have with business and what it does with its time will be very, very different. So the role will move away from being transactional.
As an HR leader, what are the two key aspects of your role that you will no longer be engaged with, in the future of work?
Increasingly, repetitive transactional tasks in nature will be automated. While these repetitive tasks will continue to be there, we will have to look at them as to how do we manage them effectively. The amount of time spent on such tasks will undoubtedly come down. But focus on people, people dynamics, culture, capability building, and productivity will continue to be there.
In your opinion, will HR be managing people or robots OR both in the future?
We will continue to manage people though automation will continue to build deeper inroads in organizations. Because HR needs to bring in the heart as well and the paradigm that people in HR need to genuinely like people will not change. But the way HR understands people, dynamics of teams, and what needs to be done to build capability and culture, will start playing a much larger role.
I think managing people is still a manager’s job but enabling him with tools, technologies, feedback, and processes will what HR’s role would be.
How do you envision the future of work and the role of next-gen technology in redefining the role of HR?
Technology is going to make HR far more effective, and help us create a far greater impact on the way an organization performs and the way people perform. While technology will be an enabler, it will make sure that there is a lot more analytics in place, helping the HR to build the human mix in an organization.
For instance, one of the values we have is unconditional positive regard for people. How do you use technology to enable that will be the HR's role. With technology, you can make that a constant reality far better as compared to when you did not have that technology.
Ultimately, technology will not replace an HR person; it will only replace many tasks an HR person does.