“Workplace complexity and coexistence of multiple variables pose a huge challenge in manufacturing” Ravi Mishra

Technology is definitely an efficient enabler, but emotion is the oxygen. The technology works on the basis of logic, while creativity comes out of imagination in human beings, Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR. global proxy business, Aditya Birla Group

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Technology, data, employee experience: What’s high on agenda

Emphasis will be more on technology. Speed with accuracy is an important dimension, where HR needs to deliver. It cannot be accomplished by deploying the conventional model to process tasks, which normally work in a linear way. Once technology is used, the great elements of speed and accuracy along with consistency come in. Secondly, when these processes are handled manually, they tend to bring in an element of subjectivity to decision making. This results in the unnecessary need for stakeholders to scrutinise and check motives. Thirdly, technology can make better decisions using multiple variables and analytics, which is otherwise difficult normally.

Technology brings in an economic value proposition compared to hiring and engaging full-time experienced professionals for the task, to work manually, in the long run. Hence, cost competitiveness is an important stimulus for businesses to ensure sustainable growth associated with technology.

Going forward, I believe that many activities in the hiring process, identification of training needs, and talent segmentation will be driven with the support of technology and use of artificial intelligence (AI). It will empower HR to make more holistic decisions by applying various data points.

THE Biggest challenge for HR in your sector

Complexity at the workplace, particularly in the manufacturing sector, arising out of multiple variables operating at the same time will be a huge challenge.

  • The challenge will be very complex, due to various contradictory factors impacting the organisation together at the same time. We need to incorporate the emergence of new technology across the organisation, to align with Industrial Revolution 4.0 and make the business viable. Otherwise, it will be difficult to compete in the market and the organisation may be forced to go the ‘Nokia Way’.
  • Multiple generations working together, holding different sets of personal values and approaches at the workplace will create a tough situation. It will be difficult to manage all their experiences and expectations.
  • There will be a serious backlash if the expectations of meaningful jobs and livelihood of the rising population of unemployed are not met. On the other hand, matters will get worse when there is very little scope for creation of new jobs, considering the changes and development in processes, technology and level of automation.
  •  Approach, understanding and support of the Government is very slow, and at times inadequate, to handle the issues. On one hand, the Government looks towards the industry for support in order to meet the five trillion economy, without any hand holding. It still follows laws that belong to the British era or have been simply reprinted with change of cover page and dates. Government’s intervention is required to address the issue holistically.
  • It is equally challenging for HR to handle the aspirations of the local people, politicians and Government authorities, with limited resources. Remember case of the Tata Nano plant at Singur in West Bengal? Precious time and capital investment was lost in the struggle between people and politics. By the time the management decided to shift the factory to Sanand in Gujarat by air ambulance, it was too late and they could not deliver the full potential.

Time to say goodbye to a few age-old HR practices

First, we need to change the model of annual performance appraisal/evaluation to quarterly. This will be more focused and relevant to drive the concurrent issues. The performance delivered in April, is evaluated in March and by the time it is rewarded in June or July it becomes a very long drawn process, which also loses its sheen. In my opinion, we need to start the practice of half-yearly increments with weighted average performance of two quarters. If the board can review the performance of the organisation on a quarterly basis, why can’t the managers do the same? This will make the organisations as well as the performance management systems more agile.

Secondly, we should drop the conventional recruitment system, which in my opinion, should be fully outsourced through a technology-enabled expert agency possessing modern operating systems, IoT and neuro experts on the panel to process and match the requirements. This will deliver faster and accurate results.

GenZ: a catalyst to change

HR has a very critical role to play in aligning the millennials and GenZ with organisational realities during the transition phase of college to corporate. They should be driven smoothly without jerks to allow them to get acquainted with the ground realities. HR should create an effective model of socialisation in the organisation. They should influence GenX, baby boomers and traditionalists to embrace the changes happening very fast at the workplace. This task is very difficult, particularly in the old economy. It will require lots of patience and trade-offs to deal with these natural conflicts. Another area that requires attention is the organisation of modern resources and the eco-system with flexibility to support new generations. We also need to deal with this generation at the emotional level, as they are very restless, impatient, fragile, and seek to find everything very fast.

Balance humanity and technology

The human touch is very important in the organisation. With the advancement of technology, we have often failed to transfer the potential performance into concrete deliverables. Emotions are one of the most important sources of quick energy that motivates people for action. Technology is definitely an efficient enabler, but emotion is the oxygen. The technology works on the basis of logic, while creativity comes out of imagination in human beings. An organisation can grow by leaps and bounds when it brings new products, services or practices which are more efficient, economic and long lasting.

To avoid the Kodak moment or change of the slide for Nokia, organisations need to connect with people emotionally and create certain touch points to constantly feel and measure their vibes. This will ensure initiation of timely and affirmative interventions.

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