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HR technology is a term that is often used to refer to all kinds of hardware as well as software components used for automation of the HR functions and activities. From employee attendance to background verification, employee payroll, workforce analytics and more, technology is disrupting the way these process function across workplaces.

In recent years, HR technology adoption by various organisations across industries has seen an exponential rise. In fact, according to reports by CB Insights, a well-known venture capital database, many investors, in 2016, invested more than a whopping $2 billion in HR technology and platforms alone. With such an impressive breakthrough across many industries, you may have considered jumping on to the bandwagon of HR automation. However, in order to make the most use of HR technology, there are certain things to keep in mind before you buy them.

So, whatever your reason is- whether for talent acquisition or background verification, here is a comprehensive checklist for you if you wish to invest in HR technology. They will help you avoid blindly buying products and services that you may regret later.

1. Business Impact of HR Technology

First of all, you have to think about all the possible impacts the adoption of the HR technology may bring. Technology and automation may have negatives as well. Will it actually increase your company’s efficiency? Will it be accepted or resisted by employees across various departments? Will it bring in monetary profit in the long run? All these are discussed in detail in the following points.

2. HR Technology- a Necessity or Aspiring for Future growth?

Is the HR technology you wish to adopt absolutely necessary in order to resolve a burning issue your organisation faces in the present? Or do you wish to invest in it for future growth? If you do not need it right now, it may be better to wait for when you have enough resources and capital.

3. Change Management process- What you will have to adopt after integrating HR technology into your organisation

The adoption of new HR technology will obviously be a huge change for your organisation. The thing with automation is that it almost always leads to loss of jobs for current employees. If this is going to be the case with you, you may want to consider the change management process you will have to adopt.

4. Return On Investment (ROI)

Is this new HR technology really worth the money you have to spend on it? Will it yield a profitable return on investment (ROI)? Do your research thoroughly and carefully consider how much the money equivalent of its benefits are. If it is not really profitable in the long run, you may want to give it a second thought.

5. Immediate and Long Term Benefits

Automation of such kind will surely bring a ton of benefits (for example, improving productivity and efficiency), whether direct or indirect, to employees as well as the organisation itself. It can even affect your brand reputation. Consider all these first before buying HR technology.

6. Underlying Technology and possible side effects

As mentioned before, automation has some negatives too. Therefore, carefully consider how safe and secure the underlying technology is, and if there are any potential side effects that may hurt your company.

7. Risks associated with the HR technology and how you can mitigate or correct it

After considering all risks associated with the HR technology, the next step is to think about how you can mitigate or prevent such risks or correct them. You may have to introduce changes in your organisation for this.

To know more, schedule an appointment with one of our experts today by writing to us at communication@authbridge.com

Background screening is the need of the hour. With banks getting scammed by employees and a lot of cab drivers being accused of unruly conduct, employers need to be extra careful with whom they hire.

It is difficult for HR professionals to conduct background screening on candidates all by themselves, especially when it comes to conducting physical address verification of the employees. A lot of the candidate’s information is available online in public databases which when accessed can save on physical resources. However, to manually go through all the available data can be very time-consuming.

How can technology assist in background checks?

The new technologies being developed for background verification and screening take a lot of the burden off the HR. With a few algorithms in place, verifying employment records, address proofs and any criminal charges can all be done within minutes.

Here’s how the technology works for background screening:

1. Quick Data Accessibility: With artificial intelligence (AI), large amounts of data can be processed in just a few minutes. By entering a person’s name into a search engine, all matches to that name from databases across the web will be thrown up in a matter of seconds. More finely tuned systems can streamline search results even further and give you results that match more than one criterion. If a simple Google search can take you to a person’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profile, imagine what can be done with search algorithms that have been developed specially for background verification.

2. Smarter Data Analysis: Combing AI with machine learning can now take background screening to a new level by prioritizing data according to relevance. It is no longer enough to get all the information about a person available online. No one has the time to select what data is useful to a background verification and what is not. New technologies can now analyse data and present the hiring company with the more useful data first. Criminal records, address verification, past employment verification can all be screened without having to find out where the candidate holidayed last summer.

3. Analysis of risk and threats: One of the main purposes of a background verification is to make sure that you are hiring a trustworthy candidate. What new technologies can do is to pick up on phrases like ‘termination of employment’ and gather all data relevant to that point. A search result like this makes it much easier for HR to understand why the person left/was fired from their last place of employment and if they are reliable enough to hire for the new role. If an employee was fired on suspicion of siphoning funds, but it was not proven, and no police complaint was made, then it won’t show up in criminal records. When machine learning analyses risks and threats, this shortfall can be overcome.

4. Automatic Scoring: By taking into account certain key performance factors when doing a background verification, AI can quickly and efficiently generate a score for the candidate. Looking at past performances, employment history, mentions of awards, accolades or published papers, the program could give the applicant a higher score. On the other hand, furnishing false details or discrepancies in the past records could bring down a candidate’s score considerably.

AuthBridge has a background screening system in place that uses advanced AI and machine learning techniques to pull up records of potential employees. By using the system, it takes just a few minutes to do a background check on a candidate using only relevant data and scoring them on it. The time, money and resources that a company saves by employing new technologies in background verifications are invaluable.

Write to us at communication@authbridge.com

It was the 15th edition of the HR Summit at the Hotel ITC Grand Chola in Chennai (July 26-27, 2018), themed on ‘HR. Evolution in a Revolution’. Fifteen is good stuff! Fifteen is longevity. Fifteen is about heralding change over one-and-a-half decades.   

 

650 delegates and 50+ speakers graced the occasion this time. Top draws included Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals; V Chandramouli, CEO (Special Projects), Pidilite Industries Limited; Jason Ma, Founder, CEO & Chief Mentor, ThreeEQ; Vikram Bector,  President & CHRO,  Piramal Enterprises Limited; Vineet Agarwal, MD, Transport Corporation of India; Anuranjita Kumar, MD – HR International Hubs, RBS; Dr. Kamal Hassan, Actor & Politician; Manisha Koirala, Actress etc.

 

Yeh Dil Mangey More

The 3-in-1 Summit, for the first time ever. Three Mini Summits ensconced within - Digital | Cultural | Strategic. Engaging conversations on digital and the volatile sociological needs which will have to be met – marked the evolution for HR.

 

The Clichéd Hack – Not Really! 

The HR Hackathon brought together leaders to identify HR challenges in the Indian context. They hacked through solutions and ideas to come up with learnings that the community could take back. Two such hacks.

One on ‘Hacks for re-skilling the workforce’ and the other, ‘Hacks to attract and retain critical talent’. Aon (our content partner for this event) will prepare a white paper on each session which will be circulated across India Inc. Importantly, we hope to take the discussion forward to continue the conversation.  

 

Psst…Overheard:

  1. Treat your customers as food, stakeholders as water and employees as air. Without food you can survive 2 weeks, without water 2 days but without air..well..
  2. India has a long-term strategic advantage in the evolving digital world, thanks to the age advantage.
  3. We had a 21-year old speaker – Sai Krishna VK, Founder, Scapic who spoke on ways in which the workplace enables better business.
  4. The evolution of HR has been exponential with the 4th Industrial Revolution actually bringing back the focus on people.
  5. Even the Armed Forces have to be re-skilled to thrive in the civilian world.
  6. Every fall is a step forward which takes you closer to success.
  7. A multi-generational workforce is an advantage but how can HR manage and nurture the millennials & Gen X all in one go?
  8. Diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation, opportunities, better access to talent and business performance.
  9. Creating what will add value to the company contextually is critical, vis-à-vis replicating from the guidebook of others.
  10. Convert the time spent at work to experience.
  11. HR will shape strategy to partner business in the age of building compelling experiences.
  12. Top competencies of CHROs – Influence, Learning Agility, Digital Understanding, Curiosity & Creativity.
  13. Employees need to understand customers, their problems and ways in which they can be addressed.
  14. It’s not about the number of hours but the value you bring to the workplace.
  15. Leadership is about creating a new possibility which is not a mere extension of the past.
  16. The changing face of HR would include preparing to work alongside bots and the need to be aware of the next generation.
  17. Today’s HR – Be Outcome oriented and not be bogged down by processes.
  18. Rapid urbanization, increased outsourcing and the advent of omni-channel retail have drastically changed the landscape, increasing the need for companies to find the right people.
  19. Balancing the voice of the people vis-à-vis the leadership team, being courageous, outcome-oriented, integrating high-tech with high touch – ingredients to build a good culture.
  20. Ignore the years of experience but focus on individual passion.
  21. The key to evolution is the power to re-imagine.
  22. The life-cycle of skills is becoming shorter with each passing day. Re-skill or perish.
  23. Biggest learning in building a multi-cultural team across the globe – Don’t screw up culture!

One of the most crucial aspects when it comes to maintaining the steady growth curve of a company is making sure that you are hiring right and placing the candidates in the right departments every time you are conducting a hiring drive. In fact in case there is an internal shifting of departments this is of extreme importance that you place the employees in the right department. So how do you make sure that your hiring process is efficient and effective?

 

Well there are a number of ways that you can use in order to increase the efficiency of your hiring process and one of them is an aptitude tests These are tests that are designed in order to test the aptitude of the candidate which in turn helps in placing the selected candidate in the right department. There are several benefits of having aptitude tests when it comes to the hiring process. Let us take a look at some of them:

  1. One of the most basic things that you need to assess when hiring a candidate is that whether or not he or she is suitable for the job. Sometimes it is not possible to asses that with a single interview or just by glancing through the CV. If you conduct an aptitude test then you will be able to find out what are the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate in question which in turn will help you to hire the candidate for whom the job profile will be a natural fit.
  2. The next step of the recruitment process is to make sure that you are placing the candidate in the right department. In case of shifting people from one department to another within the company itself, you need to know which employee will be right for which post. So when it comes to hiring and succession planning, the results of the aptitude test will be pivotal in determining which candidate will be best for which job profile and what this their potential to contribute to the company.
  3. Since aptitude tests mark and map out the natural instincts of a person, you will be able to figure out what the candidate is best at through this test. So once you have that figured out you will be able to use the employee accordingly. Some hidden talents might also pop out from the test which can be beneficial for the employee as well.
  4. Since an aptitude test reveals what the candidate is good at, you will able to save some time in training the candidate if you place them in right department. If their aptitude is towards the work that they have been assigned then automatically they will catch up faster and require lesser period of training.
  5. And finally since aptitude tests will be conducted by hired professionals all you will have to do is review the results and decide who the best fit for the position is. So you will end up saving a lot of time as well.

 

Aptitude tests are really efficient ways to increase the efficiency of your hiring process. So this is something that you must incorporate as a part of your hiring process. You can also check profile creation sites.

The Indian IT industry directly employs about 4 million people which also makes it one of the top employers in the private sector. Over the next 4 – 5 years, 60 – 65% of the workforce is very likely to face a major change when their job role transforms, maybe even beyond recognition, for many. The point that needs to be made here is about shifting the narrative from job losses to re-skilling for a future, the harbinger of which has already brought about new but enhanced skill requirements. Granted, many jobs will go away and never to return, but we are really talking about a better future where human skills are optimally utilized as part of a nation’s progress. 

 

9 – 66 – 155

Well, it’s about 9 new technologies to be aced, 66 Job Roles on offer & 155 new skills to be acquired. (Please refer the PPT for details).  

 

Digital transformation is already upon us and for most industries, it’s not so much as an option as it’s an imperative. Needless to say, certainly that is the case for IT BPM. An impending ‘peril’ for those who are in denial, and unimaginable ‘promise’ for the vital others who choose to ace the new opportunities. Choice. Action.

 

It has been said before but we will say it again anyway. Skills shortage or the need for re-skilling isn’t only about India. It’s a global phenomenon and even the developed nations are struggling – at times more than we can imagine. There’s enough statistical evidence and Analysts’ Reports to support this claim. And, the figures are stark. Upwards of 55 - 60% of the global CEOs feel they are ill-equipped currently to bridge the widening gap. Sample this: In the next 3 years, the requirement for Cybersecurity professionals is ~ 3 million. There are similar daunting numbers everywhere.

That’s why the NASSCOM Futureskills programme is highlighted. We believe, it will take us a step closer to our avowed vision of preparing 1 - 1.5 million people in new technologies in the next 4 – 5 years. As an industry, we need to take many more giant leaps like this one if the gap is to be bridged.  

 

Current Status

  • Pioneer Companies: Futureskills launched with a mix of member firms to solve for different kinds of use cases.
  • User Base: 200,000+ committed users from signed up member firms
  • Partner Ecosystem: 30+ partners have signed up, including best in class product firms.
  • Over 30,000 content pieces fuelling the platform
  • Subject Matter Experts: A key differentiator. Industry experts contribute relevant and current learning content. On-boarding in progress.

 

Technologies Enabled:

Goal 1 (Discovery)  - enabled for all 9 Technologies.

Goal 2 & 3 (Continuous Learning &Deep Skilling) enabled for AI, Big Data, RPA. Rest by Sep ’18.

 

The Future

  • Continued Focus on Phase 1 in 2018-19 – B2B
    • Continue to roll out to NASSCOM member companies in 2018-19.
  • Prepare for Phase 2 – Launch B2C in 2019
    • Make futureskills available to Universities and Colleges in next year.
    • MOU with MeitY focused on extending the Futureskills platform to individuals.
    • Goals for next 5 years : 1 million professionals to be reskilled and 1 million potential employees and students to be skilled in the new emerging technologies !

 

The great Peter Drucker once said, “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the one of learning new skills. Obsolescence is inevitable.”

 

Come,  be a part of this revolution.

 

Know more about NASSCOM's initiatives and programs, follow NASSCOM impact stories

Today every company is acting on the digital transformation or at least talking about digital transformation. While it is important to drive it by analyzing customer behavior, it is extremely important to understand who from your organization is acting upon it – your employees.

 

Hence knowing your employees first and then go to explore the outer world of customers, is the best strategy for digital transformation.

 

HR plays an important role in knowing the employees. As the volume of data available to HR has increased exponentially over the few years. The data on recruitment, onboarding, employee personal data, their training, performance and attrition data can give tremendous insights to an organization.

 

HR analytics is focused on making the most of the vast amounts of HR data, organizations have gathered as mentioned above.

 

Collecting employee sentiments, while they are in office is a good way of improving their life. Happy employees go an extra mile to make your customers happy.

 

Sentiment analytics can be done for all the touch points:

  • How do employees commute to the workplace – office transport or their own
  • How do they find the parking – nearby or hectic to reach to office
  • How are they welcomed in the office – good fresh smell or closed stuffed environment
  • How is hygiene maintained in the office premises
  • How is the canteen facility, food options, quality of food
  • How the official communication flows through employees, what transparency is maintained
  • How is performance measured and rewarded
  • What is the feedback on the onboarding process
  • Emotions due to promotions or rewards
  • What are the main reasons for attrition


These data points can help HR a lot in improving the 8-12 hours employees spend in the office.

 

Descriptive analytics help analyze the current scenario for HR:

  • Who is performing well and who may need some additional training or support in order to raise their game
  • Where your best employees come from
  • What recruitment channels are most effective
  • Which projects are delivering on time and what are their project pyramids
  • Which band employees are leaving frequently

 

Further predictive analytics can be used in several ways:

  • Which candidates are likely to join your organization
  • Which new hires will become your highest performers in two years
  • Which employees are likely to churn and join other organizations
  • Which band or grade employees will leave early
  • Which skills will be in most demand next quarter and later
  • How many billable employees needed to achieve the revenue targets

 

 

HR analytics open new ways to recruit, train, and engage employees. Benefits include a streamlined hiring process, better-prepared & unbiased recruitment managers, reduced attrition and higher customer satisfaction.

Validity and reliability are two important features of all tests including Psychometric tests. Validity is at the core of testing as it legitimizes content of tests which implies that information gathered from test results is relevant for the concerned topic. On the other hand, reliability defines how consistent a measure is of a specific element, over a period of time and between various test takers.

 

Validity - To label a test as valid it has to pass a series of measures.

 

  • Concurrent validity: Implying that the test must stand up to previous analysis in the same subject. This relies on previously validated tests.
  • Criterion validity: It measures how well content or qualities being tested may help predict uses in future of the same type; a personality test may predict certain behaviour, but it is valid only if behaviour manifests in real life.
  • Content validity:This concept is used mostly in clinical psychology. This measures an evaluation of how well it covers the complete portion of personality or symptoms being tested for. It needs authorities to validate that this portion comprises of the whole picture of an illness.
  • Predictive validity: It resembles criterion validity in that it deals with the predictive nature of a task/ question on a test; this kind is used mostly while comparing scores on a task related to work to how an employee is really scored on that task by employer.
  • Construct validity: It is possibly the most crucial factor for psychometric testing and aims to review whether the test is really testing what it is meant for.

 

Why is it important?

 

It provides future employers a real idea of how applicants would perform on the job applied for. It ensures that the best persons are chosen for the jobs.

 

Reliability - It reveals how consistent the results of the tests are over a period of time as well as between various test takers. For instance, in a test measuring personality traits must yield the same results from a candidate no matter how many times the test is administered.

 

Reliability has certain sub-types:

 

  • Reliability of Parallel forms: This is measured when there are two types of tests containing same elements but with various procedures or equipment. If results are the same, the tests are deemed as reliable.
  • Reliability of Internal consistency: This considers items within a test. The internal reliability between items is evaluated. For example, a psychometric test like Psychometric Assessment may feature 2 or more questions asking the same thing and if test takers answer the same, the test is deemed reliable.
  • Reliability for Inter-rater: This makes use of two individuals to rate or mark the scores of a psychometric test. If the scores are identical, the inter-rater reliability is confirmed.
  • Reliability in Test- reset: This is the last subtype. It is garnered by giving the same test at two different times and providing the same results every time.

 

About Reliability:

 

In most cases, there will be small discrepancies in complete reliability of a test because it is almost impossible to locate all defects. But reliability is an important part of psychometric tests as there is no use for a test which yields different results from the same person at different times. You can also create the profile and here you can find profile creation sites.

The technology industry worldwide is undergoing rapid transformation and to maintain competitiveness, companies are developing their business capabilities across various segments, with a particular focus on digital technologies. The underlying need for the industry is to develop the necessary skills, adjust their business models to changing ways of work, tweak their people practices in the age of the gig economy and redraw their employee growth/engagement framework.

 

In this context, the role of HR is evolving and as expectations from HR change, HR teams are moulding themselves into strategic partners to achieve the organisation’s business goals. In an attempt to articulate this journey, NASSCOM Research has put together a survey to capture this transformation.

 

Request your participation in this survey - your inputs are important in tracing the growth of HR: NASSCOM HR Trends Survey 2018.

 

For your perusal, we are also attaching the PDF version of the survey. However, do ensure that your final submission is through the online survey only.

 

Last date for submission: Jul 16, 2018

If you have any questions, please write to Diksha Nerurkar, Deputy Director - Research, at Diksha@nasscom.in

Is cost saving the first thing that pops into your mind when you think intelligent technology?

 

Think again, it’s only the ‘tip of the iceberg!’ There’s more – in fact, so much more – and the possibilities can be fascinating as they can be game changing. Today, HR organizations across the world are in the process of enhancing or considering intelligent process automation.

 

By looking beyond cost savings, the real value of intelligent automation emerges from upgrading business process and emphasizing people first. This is where HR can really show its chops – bringing together the art and science of talent.

 

Simply put, by taking over straightforward and repetitive tasks, intelligent automation allows people to focus on jobs that require uniquely human characteristics. And this opens up a whole new range of business possibilities. But first, it’s prudent to view it as a journey guided by organizational need, systematic outcome, and informed choices.

 

Optimize intellectual capital

Making the right use of HR people’s talents and capabilities for managing and guiding a workforce is critical for any company. Automating HR processes allows them to take up tasks that really matter for business growth and development.

Often it has been observed that intelligent automation process help repurpose the HR talent pool, and guides them toward more strategic contributions.

 

Decision-making backed by data

Recruitment, applicant tracking, performance management, goal setting and tracking – HR automated solutions make it possible to perform all these tasks better, more quickly,  precisely and efficiently than ever before. The data from all these processes and practices enable an organization’s leadership to make better decisions.

This data can provide rich insights used for planning, enhancing productivity, outperforming competition and more.

 

Reduce security issues and human errors

HR data is precious and security concerns around it will always be high. The self-automated HR system leaves less chances of lapses due to human error and security issues. It takes care of verifying users before sending or sharing confidential documents and can even reduce the chances of losing important documents.

By taking a logical route to deploy HR automation across processes, HR can be assured of a more secure and precise way of working and looking at talent management that is more aligned to the business.

 

From doing things differently to doing different things

When approached systematically and holistically, intelligent automation can propel organizations across limiting ceilings.

Take for example the movement from data gathering on employee performance – to using predictive analytics to make valuable HR decisions about hiring, demand and supply forecasting, career paths and progression, attrition, talent transformation and more.

 

As the automation journey progresses, HR leaders will be compelled to think beyond cost saving. And look beyond the visible benefits – at more strategic areas. They can then ask the larger questions: What are the big challenges that our organization, employees and stakeholders are facing? How can automation technology help improve business processes to address them? Other than costs savings, what extra value does the intelligence in our enterprise’s automation tools provide, such as insights or scalability?

 

Sounds exciting! The future belongs to those organizations who harness the power of automation wisely, and make the shift from doing things differently to doing different things.

Sandeep Raut

HR in Digital Age

Posted by Sandeep Raut Mar 18, 2018

Human Resources is all about the recruitment, development, and retention of talent.

 

Across all industries, HR is one of the departments that are most affected by digitization – via big data analytics, social networks or mobile solutions.

 

Today, HR is empowered with digital technologies to tackle sourcing, recruiting, onboarding, analyze workforce data, spot performance, and skills gaps and enable the workforce to outperform.

 

Mobility solutions are enabling employers to access and engage with candidates when and where they prefer. Companies can now provide access to processes, infrastructure, and systems that allow employees the same level of productivity as if they were in the office, who are traveling, working remotely, or during off hours.

 

Workforce analytics is used to screen the right candidates, determine the areas of training in which company must invest and identify employees who are likely to churn.

 

Unlike digital immigrants, today’s workforce is not after the gold watch and lifelong position. They will not stay in the organization if HR processes are hectic, stringent and not social. It is crucial to enable your workforce to keep pace with the change as well.

 

  • Today, millennials are making more than 40% of the workforce.

 

  • Their expectations are changing. Long term for them is less than 3 years.
  • Job hopping and career shifts are new normal
  • Providing them with learning and innovation opportunities is the key to retention

 

Here are some tips for digitizing HR to become the front leader of the organization

 

  • Foster a culture that inspires innovation leading digital change which creates the ultimate employee satisfaction
  • Digitize & automate HR administrative tasks which do not have any employee touch points
  • Create an experience for employees as if you are treating consumers, make them feel special
  • Incorporate Mobile and social capabilities in the HR functions

 

Digital promises to re-position HR as the driver of employee engagement and align the workforce who would be self-motivated to achieve the company mission.

 

 

The digital age has changed a lot of aspects of our professional as well as personal lives. The future is now… and it is all about people, so HR digitization is extremely important !! 

Ishwara Bhat

How CTO Can Help India

Posted by Ishwara Bhat Mar 6, 2018

Last weekend I spoke to a friend in an MNC. They have lot of technologies and solutions for smart cities. Especially for waste management which is a perennial problem, at least for Bangalore. 

The difficulty is progressing, is in resolving the business model. This is when I started thinking about my blog which I posted some time back. - Why India needs a CTO.

If we have CTOs for every government entity, I feel things will be dramatically different. The CTO could tie together, existing problems with technologies, solutions and business model. From there, could evolve stronger model for defining technology roadmap for the society. 

 

How a CTO Could Help India | Middle Management Insights 

 

 

Any responses? I am all ears!

Everyone who has ever worked in the corporate world knows what a chore the annual performance review is, both for managers and for employees. It starts with defining the goals at the beginning of the year which for the most part (barring a mid-year course correction) are sacrosanct almost as if they were written in stone. At the end of the year, managers have to figure out a way to keep track of all the hits and misses that an employee has had over the course of the last year. They have to identify goals that have been achieved and those that haven't as well as demonstrations of company values and behaviour by their employees. They need to also identify the strengths and areas for improvement of the employees and come up with suitable guidance that can be translated into action plans in the coming year.

Employees too need to keep track of all the work that they have done over the past year. The year-end exercise almost becomes like a battle of wills between the two protagonists with managers trying to justify the performance rating that they have given to the employee and the employee pushing back against, in their opinion, being shortchanged by the manager. Since year-end conversations also consist of feedback from the manager to the employee as well as other feedback that an employee typically solicits from her colleagues, the process can tend to move rapidly from the convivial to the unfortunately far too frequent, confrontational.

The crux of the problem, as I look at it, is the infrequent conversations on performance that the typical process entails. If managers and employees talk to each other about performance-related issues more frequently and all of it gets documented, then year-end conversations can quickly become redundant and may even be done away with. In fact several companies like GE, Adobe, Google and Netflix to name a few have done away with annual reviews. The analogy that best captures this change is the move from traditional “waterfall” models of software development to the more modern “agile” methodologies. In the traditional model, designs and specifications for a software product are laid out at the beginning in great detail and then are followed to the later in coming up with the product. Any changes in product features or design have to go through a laborious process of approvals.

Agile methodologies, on the other hand, are based on the concept of “sprints” wherein, small pieces of work/feature sets are worked on by teams for brief periods of two-three weeks each. This enables changes to be incorporated into software features at a much faster pace as programmers are able to analyze and set right design flaws on a near real-time basis. Borrowing from this, continuous performance appraisals with more frequent say bi- or tri-weekly check-ins along with continuous 360-degree feedback, can go a long way in course corrections being made so that the overall performance of the employee increases.

So can we expect more companies to join the continuous performance appraisal bandwagon?

Research has shown that employee engagement is the number one priority for CEOs. This is probably not surprising given the impact that engaged employees can have on an organization's bottom line. A Gallup study done in 2012 concluded that in the US alone, only about 13% of the employees were actively engaged. The study also found that yearly productivity losses in the US arising from employee disengagement were a whopping $500 billion dollars with worldwide estimates of productivity losses touching one trillion dollars. No wonder CEOs are pushing employee engagement up their priority lists.

Source: Gallup 2012 Meta Analysis on Q12

However, there seems to be a serious disconnect betweeen CEO priorities and the way they are being tackled in the real world. Most organizations carry out a year-end survey if their employees are lucky or perhaps one in two years. The surveys tend to be fairly long and tedious with the result that the urge to finish does, more often than not, triumph over the need to give accurate feedback. In addition, the availability heuristic is in operation with the result that more recent events tends to dominate the feedback leading to a significant skew in the results obtained. Moreover, the time taken from conducting the survey to data analysis, report generation, trend identification and devising of action plans takes a good 3-4 months with the result that actions are taken a good 6-8 months after the issue had initially arisen. Managers are thus unable to be proactive in identifying issues and nipping them in the bud before they turn into crisis.

 

Let's pause for a moment to consider an analogous situation in sales. Can you imagine Sales leads only looking at their sales data at the end of every year and basing their actions for the next year on that? As incredible as that sounds, that is precisely what organizations are asking HR Leaders to do instead of obtaining feedback from employees on a more consistent basis. Josh Bersin from Deloitte has identified real-time employee engagement as one of the key disruptive HR technology trends in 2016. Given the rapid digitization of the world, a whole new breed of applications are coming up that use the digital technology to enable organizations to reach out to employees more often. These include but are not just limited to pulse surveys, textual feedback mechansims, peer to peer appreciation and anonymous manager feedback.

 

The surge in such applications is also driven by the millenial workforce that simply doesn't believe in waiting for a year to make their views known. Organizations are thus being forced to respond to their needs by providing them with avenues to express their opinions. While initial attempts utilized internal blogs and discussion boards, there is a growing realization that a more structured approach can reap greater benefits. The recent surge in large organizations giving up their performance appraisal systems ought to be seen in conjunction with the surge in newer approaches to employee engagement. Real-time solutions can enable both performance appraisal and employee feedback at the same time.

 

As is usual in the HR space, most of the innovation seems to be happening in the US with Indian organizations in particular playing catch-up. HR practices in most old-world Indian industries like manufacturing are stuck in a time warp. The new-age IT industries are better but only in a relative sense. However, the success of organizations like Google and LinkedIn in creating an engaged workforce is prompting our IT doyens to take a relook at their own engagement policies. They are re-examining the entire gamut of operations that deal with how they measure, track and get feedback from their workforce.

 

So what would my recommendations be for companies looking to transform their employee engagement approach? Here are ten of them:

 

  1. Be bold! Junk the annual survey. Sure you get some perspective on how your organizations is doing vis-a-vis others in the industry but other than that, the only purpose they serve is as a checkbox in a goal sheet for an HR practitioner!

  2. If nothing else, start surveying more regularly, say at a quarterly level. At least you are that much ahead of the game and can identify burning issues sooner.

  3. Look to administer real-time pulses to monitor the moods of the your organization. Organizations go to great lengths to track the in and out times of their employees. It is even more important to track how your employees are feeling.

  4. Identify metrics that you can track over time. As the old adage goes, what you can't measure, you can't manage. The metric could be something as simple as the overall happiness index. Don't have a digital way to do it? Put colored balls in glass jars if you need to or get your employees to use colored stickers to indicate their moods but get some measure of how your employees feel.

  5. Mark interventions your leadership takes on a calendar and track the impact of these interventions using the metrics that you track. Organizations usually take interventions but there is rarely a follow up on whether specific interventions worked or not. Again, just another check box in someone's goal sheet.

  6. Hold your managers accountable for the overall engagement in their teams. Let them know that their performance includes an assessment of how engaged their team members are.

  7. If possible, move to a real-time employee-engagement platform. There are startups and small enterprises both in India and abroad that are developing products in this space. Reach out to them and see if you can't gain a competitive edge by really engaging with your employees the way they want to be engaged.

  8. Take every opportunity to solicit feedback from your employees. Really listen to what they are saying.

  9. Act on their feedback. The surest way to turn your employees off giving feedback is to ignore their feedback and not act on them. So go ahead, and act on their ideas and suggestions – those that make sense of course.

  10. Above all, tell them that you have acted on their suggestions. Let them feel that they have been a part of the overall process. Celebrate your successes together!

 

Do this and I bet you, you will never go back to thinking about year-end surveys again.

Gone are the days when digitization was a fancy trend that people discussed in board rooms. It has now become a strategic necessity that is slowly and steadily proliferating into every business process and function, be it sales and marketing, customer servicing, business management or human resources.

According to a McKinsey report, 49 percent of leading companies are investing in digital technology more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5 percent of the laggards. The message is clear – go digital or risk going out of business!

HR in the forefront

In contrast to the traditional Human Resource processes of the past (essentially paper-intensive, non-innovative, time consuming practices limited to recruitment, payroll and salary management), things have taken a quantum leap towards a more digitized and efficient process.

As a result, one can see HR itself leading the way towards an organization’s digital transformation.

Digitization in HR does not imply merely using spreadsheets, dashboards and technology; it has a much deeper impact on an organization’s journey into the future. It includes talent transformation and imbibing new talents to bridge the digital gap and keep the process of innovation alive.

New-age HR

Given the pervasiveness of technology coupled with the pressure to better find and nurture talent, it’s no surprise that HR at many organizations is becoming increasingly digitized and automated.

New-age HR encompasses a lot more than what traditionally HR used to address a few years back. Apart from traditional HR practices like recruitment, payroll and salary management, today HR also looks at addressing issues related to workforce optimization, talent transformation, upskilling and reskilling, training, L&D, employee engagement and wellness practices and more. Thus, HR has become a convergence for all people related decisions in an organization.

Digitization and automation of certain redundant HR practices like resume screening, interview scheduling, employee evaluation, has transformed HR into a more strategic role player. Using cloud computing and cognitive technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, neural networks, and automation, HR processes have become not only faster but more accurate and bias-free but are also adding an intelligence layer across major business functions.

Today, CHROs can not only distinguish the best fits for a job role but also ascertain the joining probability of a prospective candidate, gauge skill gaps and map employee career paths, predict attrition and impose retention models, create a more engaged, networked and efficient workforce.

Let’s take sneak peek at 5 areas where HR is power packing itself through digital transformation:

  • User friendly HR systems: Mobile phones are believed to be the biggest catalyst in digital transformation as they can mobilize processes, make them simpler, more accessible, sleeker and deliver a great user experience that is fine-tuned for user adoption. According to Bersin by Deloitte report, this consumerization trend is converting HR into a system of engagement that can reach beyond the territory of HR and really engage employees’ inner work lives, rather than being just one of record (certifications, training etc.)

 

  • Bridging the employee-manager gap: With digitizing HR systems, one of the best thing that has happened is the narrowing of the wide communication gap between employees and managers and employees and HR team. New dialogue tools like chat bots and intra-organization communities, there’s a more transparent communication flow and a happier and more motivated workforce.

 

  • Transforming L&D: Learning and development has become an integral part of HR which cannot be overlooked any more. With rapid technology disruption and an ongoing talent crisis, it has become imperative for organizations to invest in reskilling and retaining their existing workforce. With AI and analytics in use, HRs and employees can now map their career progression route and upskill themselves in the most demanding and fitting skills to avoid the pink slip nightmares. Also, with digital education options, bite-sized, on-demand, mobile or web based micro-learning sessions, talent transformation and training, reskilling and upskilling workforce has become much easier and fast-paced.

 

  • Feedback and reviews: Bringing the entire workforce on a digital platform has eased the process of performance reviews, appraisals and feedback system and has also made it more transparent and unbiased. Many organizations use gamification to gauge employee performance and reviews.

 

  • Employee target/goal setting: Every organization takes a great deal of effort to set the employee goals in alignment with their annual business goals and the employee’s performance record. With digital solutions and platforms, managers can now openly and steadily share S.M.A.R.T goals, distribute them to employees, and enable sharing them with co-workers. This not only keeps the employees, managers and HR team on the same page, but also nurtures a more transparent work environment and a more unified and aligned team of players. This can even help managers improve.

 

Evidently, all these efforts and effects combined together will enable the HR to rise from being a side kick to a superhero in the organization.

Digital transformation of workforce and HR can not only keep the organization abreast with the evolving and disrupting technological space but also create a more productive, engaged, networked, committed and motivated talent pool. It is high time that HR and learning professionals embrace this change to meaningfully impact employees as well as the business.

It was an opportune moment for us. Time and again we have emphasized on strong linkages that’s concomitant to industry-academia partnerships. Thus, Dil Sidhu’s visit provided an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding. In our midst and addressing the NASSCOM leaders afterwards, he agreed - most generously - to share insights on a range of topics.    

 

  • The relevance of MBA as a qualification in today’s environment. Highlighting some of the issues specific to this age.

The value of an MBA qualification is just as strong and hasn’t waned at all – to set the record straight. As a rigorous training program for business professionals, it has few parallels. Notwithstanding a certain sameness seen in the yesteryears, today, the need for accreditation has increased vastly, and B-schools have to necessarily adhere to it to stay relevant. It’s seen as a major ask towards maintaining academic excellence and be taken seriously.

 

Besides sustaining academic rigour, schools today are deeply engaged in managing careers and supporting entrepreneurship as well. The top-tier schools lay great emphasis on soft skills (the power of persuasion for instance), including the need to foray into social sectors. Inasmuch, the not-for-profit organizations are making their mark and attracting very competent people, in process. The need to address social issues is more pronounced than it was earlier, and easily gravitating towards increased stakeholder support.  

 

Dil Sidhu completed his MBA in 1995. At that time, the emphasis on hard skills was unmistakable. It was a generation which swore by concepts such as RoI, NPV, strategy et al. Today, talks also veers around ‘collaboration’ and is driven by a new generation of leaders who have a very different understanding of business. Not least because of the constant need to manage global workforces. This is not to imply that the focus on hard skills is on the decline, but that soft skills are given equal importance as well. Always having to maintain that curious balance – akin to walking a tightrope - is arguably a new-age challenge which professional managers grapple with at all times.

 

Today, it is not at all uncommon to be active in a global marketplace which is not constrained by geographic boundaries. Global politics and its volatility have birthed a VUCA environment where nothing is constant – not even the pace of change! Two decades back, the ship wasn’t being rocked as often. Often touted as the “new normal” effective leadership is about rallying around diverse teams which are spread across different time zones to negotiate change, hitherto unprecedented. A siloed approach almost certainly spells the death-knell today, and teams have to be constantly reflective, as progress is made.     

 

  • His thoughts on MOOCs. Will it ever replace the traditional model?

It is unlikely that MOOCs will ever replace the traditional mode of teaching. Humans are social creatures and the need to constantly interact with one another is an overpowering one which is best afforded in a classroom environment (in the long run). The proponents of online education may strongly disagree but it must be borne in mind that the process of learning has a huge emotional component to it. Constant human interaction is a surer way to ensure that this need is met and sustained. Studying in classroom environment has great benefits and not being able to do so is a missed opportunity.  

 

In an online mode, as learners are spread across different time zones, coming face-to-face can be challenging. Moreover, studying online, over time, calls for a great deal of discipline and personal sacrifice. Without an external push, sustaining this routine may be a source of great challenge for many learners. Having said that, the online mode certainly has its avowed & proven benefits too and it is increasingly nudging its way into the learners’ calendars.

 

  • The top 2 – 3 things that’s different at Columbia, and helps to create its USP?

Content, faculty and the approach to research are often regarded as the cornerstones at Columbia. Assiduously and over time, strong linkages have been established between theory and practice. He asserted that great empirical research cannot happen in isolation. Moreover, being in New York has its positives too, adding immeasurably to the sheer number of connects established which has only enhanced learning opportunities.

 

The focus on neuroscience is quite strong at Columbia Business School which is what makes it remarkable too. Cutting-edge research is undertaken to study how the brain works and ways in which it responds to stimuli. New teaching methods are adopted in accordance which enables the institution to stay ahead.   

 

  • He is a self-confessed “Life Student”. His thoughts on re-skilling.

Having earned three Master’s degrees, is a case in point which underscores the philosophy of continuous learning. He encourages people to think afresh all the time and reflect on the possibilities of replacement that all of us are threatened with in varying degrees. “What is it that can replace me tomorrow”, he ruminates? Not one to rest on past laurels, he is currently undergoing a course in advertising which will help him to pitch 30-second commercials.   

 

While dwelling on the subject of learning, he emphasized on “unlearning” too. Marketing for instance, has been re-defined by the advent of digital technologies. Leaders today are often at high risk because of an unforeseeable future and have to be constantly prepared for radical shifts. There are too many examples of those who chose not to pay heed to early market warnings, and spiral down the road to oblivion eventually. To put it simply, it’s about knowing what’s next.

 

  • The power of AI – distilling myth from reality.

A popular belief today, “AI being the new electricity”, doesn’t elicit a disproportionate amount of enthusiasm from him. Instead, he draws yet another interesting parallel with electricity. Billions of people, even today, do not have access to it and with AI it will not be much different, he avers. The global acceptance of AI will be diverse and developed economies will be taking lead in its adoption. Perhaps we must not rush into drawing parallels with electricity, at least not yet. Its proliferation will also impact the way government scripts policies for the future. Some serious thoughts are needed about jobs which will be replaced by AI. Governments will have to think and act very differently on re-skilling and creating employment for the future, he says with a touch of alarm.

 

Yet, there’ll be businesses which will simply not be able to afford AI applications because of ultra-thin margins that they enjoy (suffer?). These models will be tasked with solving other challenges instead. In many parts of the developed world, there’s a growing aversion towards the app economy and the need to be logged on all the time. Being connected 24/7 robs humans of the time to think. When we forecast for the future we have to take contrarian ideas into account too, and not always be carried away by the promise of technology. 

 

  • 3 pivots for the future and Leadership Mantra.

 

  1. None of us is smarter than all of us. The days of single-handedly leading change may soon be relegated to history, if it hasn’t been already. This is the age of collaboration and significant progress can only be achieved when we learn to work with one another.
  2. Knowledge is power. But this knowledge cannot be acquired in isolation. Being social is a critical condition for its dissemination. Otherwise it is meaningless.
  3. We have to embrace lifelong learning. We learn from the time we are born so why do we need to stop doing so after a certain point in time? Vastly improved medical services will lead to prolonged lives and careers. It isn’t very difficult to spot people today who are playing out their second careers after the age of 50. This trend will soon catch on. For most people, going back to learning will not be such a big shock after all.