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HUMAN RESOURCES- The Expanding Role of Technology in India’s HR Industry- B-AIM PICK SELECTS

  • IT tools automate repetitive administrative tasks and enable HR managers to make data driven decisions when recruiting and assessing employee performance.

  • Research indicates that over half of all MNCs in India have automated several HR functions.

  • AI-powered technologies and bespoke corporate social media applications can ensure business communication and collaboration continues uninterrupted amid the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

The human resources (HR) industry in India has been a relatively early adopter of technology-powered solutions for talent acquisition, onboarding, and performance management. For example, the use of AI to enhance productivity at workplaces is expected to be one of the leading trends in India’s HR industry this year. Yet, while tracking these developments, it is also important to understand just how technology is transforming the role and nature of HR management.

Along with automating repetitive administrative tasks and setting up a chatbot to answer FAQs, AI helps HR managers make time-sensitive and data driven decisions that can be devoid of human bias. For instance, while screening candidate resumes, AI tools will shortlist candidates based on their experience, educational qualifications, and skills instead of external factors, such as gender, age, or appearance.

According to a media report, 70 percent of multinational companies (MNCs) in India have automated half of their HR functions, while 20 percent of these companies are investing in some form of HR technology in 2020. With automation in place, HR managers will have the opportunity to work on employee-centric initiatives, such as creating opportunities for mentoring and leadership, closing the gender and pay gap, and creating a safe work environment within the organization.

While there is a general assumption that HR jobs will be impacted as a result of this technology, an Oxford University study estimates that only 5.5 percent of high level HR positions – that involves strategic thinking and human interaction – will be at risk. Industry experts believe that automation will be used to make every day HR processes simpler but will not replace HR managers or executives.

Further, with employees increasingly working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, IT and automation tools will come in handy as they help streamline workplace communication and collaboration, including conducting meetings, managing schedules, marking attendance, monitoring employee performance, and working on team projects.

In this article, we spotlight how technology is changing the HR industry in India.

Enhancing employee experience through AI tools

AI chatbots are now being used as a first point of contact with the company HR. Instead of reaching out to the HR department for administrative tasks, employees can first reach out to the virtual assistant with their questions. If it is unable to answer, then the concern may be forwarded to the HR executive for further assistance. This system has already been adopted in countries like the US and UK, and is expected to be the norm for several MNCs in India in the next few years.

AI can also be an aid to create personalized learning and development programs for employees. These programs can be customized based on the recommendations of reporting managers, individual skill gaps, and interests of the employees. Further, in the future, AI can also be coupled with other technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, to make learning more interactive for employees.

Automation and HR reports

Through AI powered tools, HR managers are now able to use data collected through employee surveys, feedback, and exit interviews to create recommendations for the management to increase employee engagement and create employee centric policies.

Earlier exit interviews in India were limited to a meeting with the respective HR manager, however in the last year or so exit interviews at several organizations have evolved to an in-person meeting and an extensive online form, where employees can share an honest feedback about their time in the organization.

Due to automation, HR departments now have access to data and HR reports that can be used to create necessary strategies. Insights into data, such as turnover rate and employee satisfaction, can be used to create new initiatives and policies addressing the concerns of the employees. For instance, if former employees have left the organization early due to lack of growth opportunities, then HR can work hand-in-hand with senior management to create programs for new employees so they know they have space to grow within the company.

Further, automated reports also help track how HR initiatives are performing and how the initiatives resonate with employees.

Supporting the remote work culture

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, including India, most multinational firms have asked employees to work from home. Given that organizations might have to adopt remote work models for the foreseeable future, new areas are emerging where technology applications become an essential tool for HR to manage employees.

HR managers are increasingly using the software as a service (SaaS) platform to manage the remote workforce. Essentially, SaaS platforms make software available to users on the internet, without the hassle of either installing or running a software application on the computer. Examples of SaaS platforms include Google Apps, Office 365, Salesforce, HubSpot, Dropbox, and MailChimp to name a few.

According to industry experts, SaaS platforms that facilitate workflow management and administration can help managers gauge the productivity of employees and teams. Though individual monitoring is not advised as it infringes on employees’ privacy, the big data gathered from the platform can be used to make management and HR-related decisions. HR, along with the management and employees, can decide what sort of monitoring would be more beneficial and less intrusive – individual or departmental.

For instance, HR managers can see how frequently applications, such as Outlook, Teams, or Skype are being used by employees, and pick the mode of communication for the organization that is most frequently used. It will also allow HR to speed up parts of the onboarding process for a new employee as all the relevant content is available on one platform.

However, HR managers must take necessary precautions before integrating a SaaS platform into their workflow. Key is protecting sensitive company data and providing employees secure access to the software through a virtual private network (VPN) to control for any cyber intrusions or compromise of data security outside the office.

Office 365: Popular SaaS platform among companies

Office 365, a SaaS platform, provides a wide range of functionalities to support remote working, primarily due to the way it is designed. The platform helps organizations manage different aspects of their businesses on one platform – email, file sharing and access, and collaboration through video meetings, chats, and presentations. Further, all the information Office 365 contains is controlled under its own security policies.

With all the important functionalities integrated under one platform, Office 365 has emerged as an important tool for organizations who are moving towards a remote working model amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In a bid to get potential uses comfortable with the platform, Microsoft has also introduced special offers for certain products within Office 365 suite.

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