This article first appeared in DNA India on December 29th, 2016.
It is that time of the year where the pessimists look back at what went wrong in the past and the optimists look forward to what can go right in the coming year. As someone who thinks of himself as an optimist, and since everyone comes up with lists at this time of the year, here is my very short list of what HR could do right in the coming year.
Digitisation of processes – I had argued in an earlier article that the world is moving inexorably towards a digital future and HR needs to keep pace with it. Hitherto, HR has often lagged behind other functions such as sales, finance and marketing in transforming itself, but I see signs of changes. A first move towards this digitisation would be to look at all in-house processes and quickly start replacing the very manual processes with automated ones.
Cloud-based services – As the organisation proceeds along the path of digitisation, it is good to remember that this isn’t the nineties or the ‘noughties’, where large enterprise systems used to be customised and deployed in house. We are now in an era of cloud-based services. With the proliferation in the numbers of SaaS HR products, now would be a good time to start taking advantage of these services and reducing the overheads from deploying enterprise software in house.
Data-based decisions – HR leaders have realised that using data to make decisions can improve the quality of their decision making, which in turn can lead to cost reductions. More and more organisations are beginning to use data to hire the right candidates, identify hiring no-shows, predict employee performance and attrition, identify groups of engaged and disengaged employees, to name a few. I see this trend beginning to gather more steam in the coming years.
Continuous feedback systems – The days of the year-end employee satisfaction surveys and annual performance appraisals are going the way of the dinosaurs. Just as sales leads do not depend on balance sheets or income statements to plan their strategy for the following year, HR leaders should realise that continuous feedback mechanisms are critical to being proactive, making course corrections at the appropriate time and solving issues as and when they arise. What is heartening to note is that rather than IT service organisations, companies from industries as varied as hospitality, retail and healthcare are realising the benefits that can accrue to them from real-time feedback systems.
HR as a strategic business partner – Finally, HR’s traditional view of being seen as just another operational function is taking a beating. In its place, a new view of HR as a key strategic partner, working hand in glove with other business leaders, is falling into place. As more organisations recognise the importance that HR needs to play, this view is only going to get strengthened more.