Continuum 2016‎ > ‎

HR Continuum

Dave Ullrich rightly stated that ‘the function of HR is to align HR and business strategy, re-engineer organizational processes, listen and respond to employees and manage transformation and change’. Today, HR has evolved from a mere channel between the top management and the workforce to being a strategic partner in the decision making process of any organization. Any business decision has a direct involvement of its workforce; it is an investment of the management in its most important asset – people that catapult an organization into a brighter tomorrow. Hence, hiring the right kind of people, training them, aligning their goals with the organizational goals is of utmost importance, making the role of HR in every sector invaluable. With the social networking scenario, the movement of skill requirement from unskilled to skilled, the gravitation of businesses towards manufacturing, the rapidly developing start-up culture even amongst the established organization, and many other changes in the business environment has contributed to the growth and evolution of HRM.

The Human Resources Continuum aims to cover the latest trends in Human Resource management by inviting eminent speakers from industry and academia. Every seminar focuses on issues and challenges faced by HR functions, and aims at drawing insights from the knowledge and experience of the speakers. The HR Continuum was attended by delegates from different organizations, our faculty, our distinguished alumni and students from various Business Schools.

One-day event provides one of the best learning experiences for the students. It provides a platform for these inquisitive minds to get face to face with industry stalwarts. An enlightening session by an eminent speaker is generally followed by a round of mutual interaction between the speaker and the students. This helps the students get a holistic picture of the industry trends.

This year’s HR Continuum was based on the theme,

“Enabling Evolution of HR practices with the changing corporate scenario in India”

Following luminaries participated for delivering lectures at HR Continuum 2016 on March 12th, 2016 at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay:

Mr. Vineet Kaul Advisor, Group Human Resources Aditya Birla Group
Mr. Harsh Bhosale Head HR Essar Oil Ltd.
Ms. Rakhee Malik Head HR A.T. Kearney
Ms. Pooja Malik Vice President HR Anand Automotive Private  Limited
Mr. Sanjay Singh Executive Vice President and CHRO Crompton Greaves Ltd.
Mr. Swaminathan R Chief People Officer WNS Global Services
Mr. Raj Karunakaran Director—Human Resources Philips Healthcare
Mr. Ajith Nair Director—Engagement & Cultural Practices Aon Hewitt, India

Indicated below are the suggestive and non-restrictive subthemes for the seminars.

1)HR trends in the fast emerging start-up culture

According to Nasscom, India is the third largest global start-up ecosystem with more than  4,200 new age companies and nearly 5 billion dollar funding coming in 2015. Along with that, the Government of India has launched initiatives such as “Start-up India, Stand-up India” campaign which seeks to provide funds, tax holidays, easing down the exit process and fast track mechanism for filing patent applications and many other initiatives in the direction to improve ease of doing business. These are the steps towards reforming and infusing more energy into India’s Start-up ecosystem and environment. With the advent of more start-ups, the number of graduates who want to join start-ups rather than join established corporates has increased immensely. And so in the last couple of years, the e-commerce and consumer services industry has attracted top talent into its fold. The work culture of a start-up is much more informal and they do not have a standardized channel and process of communication. Hence, while scaling up as the number of resources increases this unstandardized method fails to work, posing a challenge to put in place HR policies to ensure professionalism. Which is why some start-ups prefer to outsource HR functions than to set up a HR team. For start-ups it is very essential to maintain their brand’s equity through careful talent acquisition and talent management practices, effective performance oriented appraisal and continuous learning and development. Because, employees are company’s greatest asset and it is absolutely critical to make sure that they are fully satisfied with their position and role in the company.

2. HR challenges in Manufacturing Sector with initiatives like ‘Make In India’

The signature Make in India campaign was launched by our Honourable Prime Minister to make India a global manufacturing hub. India has got the potential (3Ds Democracy, Demographic dividend and Demand) to boost its manufacturing growth. But there are bottlenecks like ease of doing business, infrastructure, IPR issues etc. which need to be eliminated. The key problem lies in the lack of skilled human resource, its management and development.

There are various challenges which lie ahead, some of them are:

1) Skill Development: One of the most important aspects is our Indian labour force which is in crisis. Every year only 10% of the new workers are skilled while in China it’s 50%. There is a need to implement Skill India movement.

2) Contract labour issues: 80% of the workforce in manufacturing firms are working as contract labour, which poses permanent and secure working tenure issues which can affect the success of the Make in India campaign. There is a requirement to create a sense of security and high level of motivation within the manufacturing workforce.

3) Recruiter issues: Recruiters are finding it difficult to attract expertise in manufacturing sector due to the lack of skilled labour in this sector.

4) Industrial relation issues: When a firm faces Industrial Relation and Labour Disputes, it is essential for the HR Managers to get expertise in IR Management and effectively handle disputes and negotiations. These are just a few of the issues that the manufacturing companies are going to face and it will be the role of HR to be a strategic partner to the other functions in mitigating these issues and making “Make in India” a roaring success thus helping India realize its true potential.


3. How is the introduction of Big Data changing the HRM scenario

Big data analytics refers to the process of collecting, analyzing the unstructured, semi-structured data to find out the correlation between them, identifying patterns and useful information which are instrumental in decision making for future growth of any organization. Big Data is defined in terms of 4 V’s i.e. Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity. Data is necessary for every field including Human Resource Management(HRM). Big data analytics and proper management of Big Data has become an essential part of various HRM functions such as Workforce Analysis, Retention-Attrition, Talent Analysis and Management, Knowledge Management, HR planning etc. Critical decision making systems are becoming more and more data driven which helps to get higher, better quality and cost effective outcomes. Big data analytics program has helped companies to accurately predict the nature of job posting and its success in the future. With Big data analytics companies can find and hire the right candidate for every position faster and cost-effectively. This is done with the help of social media profiles(like LinkedIn), online database of resumes and many other tools. The best examples of big data in the HR department are Google and Juniper Networks who have been able to hire their employees with the use of Big Data analytics. The world is transforming to data driven digital world and Big Data analytics plays a vital role in it.


4. Building Talent Pools to transform organizations with Human Resources as the Business Driver

Executives and HR Managers have always been focused on the basic talent management—acquiring, hiring and retaining employees. But, to drive optimal levels of success, business leaders need to engage high-performing employees. The key to inciting a workforce to greatness is to align your talent management strategy with the company strategy, define consistent leadership criteria across all functional areas and identify specific competencies (analytical, technical, education, experience) to cultivate continuous growth. Business leaders who implement the best talent management processes are more prepared, than their competitors, to compete in the global economy and capitalize quickly on new opportunities. Strategically minded organizations are able to change ahead of the curve when it comes to planning and developing a workforce with the right competencies. A critical element of a successful talent management program is the generation of "talent pools" within a company—a reliable and consistent internal source of talent and a valuable piece of the succession planning process. The development of skilled talent pool makes it easier to develop desirable skill sets in a broader group of employees, resulting in higher performance across all levels and functions. Businesses that outperform their competition know that strategic talent management is essential in building the right workforce that is necessary for precise business execution. Executives use analytics and diagnostic tools to move beyond generalities or "gut feelings" into detailed analyses of workforce performance drivers.

5. Increasing awareness about the environment changing the HR policies

Green HRM can be described as the use of HRM policies, philosophies, and practices to promote sustainable use of business resources and thwart any untoward harm arising from environmental concerns in organizations. Recently, due to an increased amount of awareness among the organizations, about sustainable and environmental friendly growth, has led to a change in the management strategies and put GHRM on the map making it a key business strategy. Organizations are changing their operations to ensure less wastage and better utilization of natural resources. They are targeting Zero Carbon Footprint. Green Human Resource Management, a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities to be undertaken by an organization, essentially has two parts – one is environmental friendly HR practices and second is to preserve the knowledge capital. Human resource and their systems are the basic foundation of any business, be it financial business or sustainable business. They are the ones responsible for planning and executing the eco-friendly policies to create a green atmosphere. Hence, without facilitating these resources going green would be a hard nut to crack. Also, GHRM aims at higher employee satisfaction because along with the organizations, people are also becoming more environmentally conscious. A positive contribution boosts the morale and satisfaction of an employee leading to higher performance. Green HRM not only includes awareness toward environmental affairs, but also stands for the social as well as the economic well-being of both the organization and the employees within a broader prospect. Companies are being measured on their greenness.

6. In the face of Globalization transforming HR Trends

Globalization is near the top of many organizations’ agenda, and not without good reason. As business becomes increasingly global, companies should improve their ability to build and manage a global workforce — often in places they have not operated before. Many companies are seeing their global footprint shift from west to east as they pursue opportunities for accelerated growth in emerging markets.By 2050, the global population is expected to grow by 50 percent — primarily driven by India and China. Yet 70 percent of the world’s corporate management is still currently located in Europe and North America. The growing populations and economies in China, India, Brazil, and other fast-developing countries will likely continue to represent fertile ground for market growth. They also offer the sustained potential of reduced cost pressure thanks to labour and regulatory differences. As a result, organizations are finding it attractive to recast their structures along global lines.To thrive in this new environment, companies need HR capabilities that enable them to effectively realign their workforce with their changing global footprint. They should also consider creating an operating environment in which global and virtual teams can thrive. Critical capabilities include improved global mobility programs that make it possible to move employees between countries efficiently and easily; standardized and repeatable HR processes and systems for entering new markets; and new staffing models that use outsourcing, contingent workers, and strategic partnerships to improve scalability and flexibility.

7. Heightened awareness and willingness towards better opportunities: a challenge to HR Managers

 In today’s competitive business landscape, success hinges much on the retention of employees. In a knowledge driven economy, it is the people who are emerging as key competitive differentiators and retaining this talent pool of resources has become a matter of paramount importance. But the swelling attrition level across businesses has strait-jacketed the distraught HR practitioner’s ability to come out with good retention strategies. The old traditions of an employee staying in an organization for over 10 years are gradually changing to employees developing the mind-set of job-hopping to climb the corporate ladder. Globalization and social networking has enabled them by providing them with the updated information about requirements of employers.Causes of employee attrition can be as varied as human personalities, but some basic factors pervade over others like compensation plan, limited career opportunities, role stagnation, mismatch of job profile, job stress and work-life imbalances, lack of authority provided to accomplish ones task etc.And as it is widely understood, that retaining these valuable assets is one of the surest ways to build an organization, which makes the role of an HR Manager highly valuable.


8. HR Policies to promote an entrepreneurial culture in the workplace

Entrepreneurial spirit is a mind-set. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than wait to adapt change. It’s a mind-set that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement. It is about “Seeing the big picture and thinking like an owner”. Companies that nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within their organization encourage their employees to not only see problems, solutions and opportunities, but to come up with ideas to do something about them.Entrepreneurial spirit is also associated with taking calculated risks, and sometimes failing. This usually means that an employee working within a budget and corporate guidelines is allowed or encouraged to find innovative ways of getting the job done. This attitude can have amazing effects not only on profitability, but from an HR perspective can contribute to increase in employee satisfaction, retention, public image and productivity. Regardless of position, everyone has a voice that needs to be heard and nurtured in order to continue bringing innovative ideas forward and HR policy should ensure this culture.


9. Building an "AGILE HR MODEL" to facilitate overall agility in the Organisational Culture

The "Agile Model of HR" states that human resources' job is not just to implement controls and standards, and drive execution—but rather to facilitate and improve organization’s agility. This changes HR's mission and focus. Driving agility means driving programs that create adaptability, innovation, collaboration, and speed. Thus, ‘Agile; has come to mean the opposite of ‘Bureaucratic’.The Agile HR model achieves its goals through:

  • Waste Elimination (Lean): The first step in enabling Agile HR is to remove waste from HR processes. The types of waste found in HR are similar to that of manufacturing, i.e. Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing Defects, etc.
  • Globalization: Another key to creating agility is to ‘Think Globally and Act Locally’. The Agile HR model blends centralization and decentralization to achieve the benefits of centralization without the costs.
  • Re-Generalization: The current trend in HR is to remove role fragmentation that exists when HR professionals are required to spend time on activities outside their value added role. Specifically, HR generalists and functional experts who are required to touch everything from recruiting to payroll to routine HRIS transactions are thus obstructed from focusing on the type of HR support that the enterprise and businesses need.
  • Self-Sufficiency: Today’s worker – not just the younger ones – expect to get their needs met online. Thus, a robust HR portal is the key technological enabler of Agile HR.
  • Silo Busting: Organisational efficiency can be gained by leveraging resources across organizational silos. The Agile HR model accomplishes this through the ability to move resources seamlessly across boundaries to meet demand at the point of need, thus avoiding waste stemming from fixed supply for fluctuating levels of demand.


10. Diversity Management slowing gaining momentum

Workforce diversity acknowledges the reality that people differ in many ways, visible or invisible, in age, gender, marital status, social status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, personality, ethnicity and culture. A large number of organizations today are rethinking and rebuilding their diversity programmes. Workplace diversity nowadays is not just a Compliance & Regulatory requirement but has moved way beyond that. All who are responsible for workforce mix in organisations are recreating their diversity efforts, based on the fact that each group brings a different dynamics to the team which helps them innovate better, perform better. Effective diversity management has historically been used to provide a legally defensible position against charges of discrimination. However, there has been considerable debate on the areas of difference between equal opportunities and managing diversity in literature. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA) are to a large extent, a product of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the liberal political philosophy. Diversity Management is ‘a movement away from or an alternative model to traditional EEO policies and practices or the second generation of EEO’.HR diversity management has gained momentum because of the pressure on businesses that have become internationally competitive, the changing labour force composition, growing awareness of the importance of human resources management and a backlash created by perceptions of special treatment for women and ethnic minorities.


11. Diverse challenges faced by HR managers from "Silver Tsunami" to the "the Millennials"

The Silver Tsunami refers to the take-over of an aging workforce. By 2020, 25% of the United States workforce will be comprised of workers age 55 and older (The Bureau of Labour Statistics). For the first time in history, there will be four generations of employees in the workforce. Older Americans are coming out of retirement, opting out of retirement all together, and people are living longer.With a median population age of around 27, India's relatively young demographic is widely seen as an economic asset, giving the country an edge over its Asian peers, many of which are aging fast. India's 60-and-over population is currently estimated at 100 million – equivalent to the size of the U.K. and Canadian populations combined – and projected to reach 240 million by 2050. According to projections by the Census of India, the dependency ratio of India's seniors will reach 19.7 percent by 2050, nearly triple that of 2001, putting the number of dependent seniors on par with the number of dependent children.

PROS & CONS of Older Workers


  • Older employees have invaluable work experience and work ethic.
  • They are usually able and willing to mentor younger, less experienced employees.
  • They can take on part time or seasonal work. In fact, some prefer it.



    • Older employees might be set in their ways and sometimes are not as adept at new technology as their younger counterparts.
    • They may need additional training and they may lack flexibility.
    • They might be old enough to have one or more chronic diseases, which makes them more expensive when it comes to medical care and insurance.

HR department needs to build strategies that companies can adapt like Flexible work Schedule, Work from Home option, Redesigning Jobs, Training Programs in Technology and Management, etc.


12. Shift from Traditional HR to Strategic HR evolving HR Roles

Traditional and strategic approaches to human resources offer an organization different models for meeting employee needs. The HR’s function is to support employees on the job through training and development, including offering insurance and benefits to support employees' families.Traditionally a HR department's role was to assist with recruitment and selection; administer payroll, compensation and benefits; and perhaps develop employee development and training solutions, report diversity data and resolve conflicts. Strategic HR means that an organization takes a tactical approach to ensure execution and success of all the business objectives stated in the strategic plan. Strategic HR is part of a different way of running an entire organization. HR focuses on the objectives that will be achieved and how HR can put the people in the right positions to maximize those achievements.Traditional HR's strengths are still in force. An employee can still go to the HR Department for answers to questions about hiring, compensation and benefits, promotions and development opportunities. The HR function can hold onto traditional functions and add new roles to support the strategic management of human capital.


13. Changes in HR policies to cope up with changing Labour Laws in India

The introduction of the ‘Make in India’ campaign by the Prime Minister of India, for boosting the manufacturing sector in India, is rapidly changing the Indian business scenario. We see huge investments pouring in, the government has introducing or amending laws to facilitate this campaign. Among these reforms are the many amendments to the Labour Laws, such as, increasing the number of employees that can be laid off without permission from the government to 300 from a 100 (Amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947), and these employee if have any grievances now are required to raise them within 3 months as opposed to the no time limit rule earlier. Also, now to form a labour union they need 30% of the total membership. According to the Amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 a higher number of employees can be hired for factories operating with or without power. Any employee with a grievance against his employer for the violation of this Act is free to seek redressal in any court of law. Apart from these reforms and many others, there are others that relax the cap for females working overnight and others.Companies now have the flexibility to hire employees or lay them off to adjust to the demand-supply scenario that exists in the market at any given point of time. Loss- making businesses can be dumped without constraints. With the reduced thresholds for labour union memberships, inter-union conflicts and multiplicity can be reduced or even completely avoided. Companies now have reduced burden of compliance, allowing a management with a greater accent on production innovation and harnessing efficiencies. Hence these reforms create challenges for the HR managers to efficiently implement these changes, creating awareness of the new regulations and its impacts, helping the employees in the transition, ensure compliance, and address the grievances of the employees especially with respect to these reforms to maintain productivity.


14. Change Management- A requirement to ensure smooth and successful business operations

Since the mid-2000, globalization and the integration of many cultures has led to Change Management becoming a key feature in the HR practices of the business landscape. Vast new markets and labour pools have opened up, innovative technologies have erased the boundaries that existed in the business model. Today the organizations have Strategic Business Units (SBUs) spread out globally, creating a new challenging environment. To meet these challenges, firms have become more sophisticated in the best practices for organizational change management. They are far more sensitive and more keenly aware of the role that cultural diversity plays in the success of an organization. It is the role of HR to mitigate the adverse effects that may arise. Subsequently to facilitate this, policies have been made, the company culture has been evolved, and core values have been transformed. These Change Management policies need to be implemented efficiently because there are high costs, not only financially, but in confusion, lost opportunity, wasted resources, and diminished morale.

“Change fatigue,” the exhaustion that sets in when people feel pressured to make too any transitions at once is just one of the few challenges faced while implementing these Change Management policies. Skills need to be developed, training sessions need to be conducted, new practical approaches need to be instilled and knowledge and cultural support needs to be given to ensure that the changes, be it in the operations of the organization, or be it an introduction of a new green initiative within the workplace, do not flounder and fizzle out. It becomes the responsibility of the HR Managers to keep the employees aware and motivated to follow the procedures through.


15. Changing Compensation Policies & Practices in the Start-up Ecosphere

Compensation is one of the very important functions of an HR Manager, and probably one of the most crucial as well. Compensation policies not only decide the cost to the organization and the number of people to hire but plays a big role in the performance of an employee and in attracting new talent. A fair and transparent compensation policy is one of the key component that effects the employee motivation and satisfaction. A recent Hewitt 'Attrition & Retention' survey shows one of the top reasons for talent attrition to be "external inequity in compensation". They also show that 27% of the employees in their EXIT interviews mentioned compensation as the primary reason. The Compensation and Benefits Policies affect the economics and performance of the company making the selection of appropriate policies a critical challenge for companies of all sizes. But never are the challenges more difficult—or the stakes higher—than when a company first takes shape. Start-Ups must strike a delicate balance. Unrealistically low levels of cash compensation weaken their ability to attract quality managers. Unrealistically high levels of cash compensation can turn off potential investors and, in extreme cases, threaten the solvency of the business. There are many considerations and questions to be answered like ‘How do they affect cash flow? What is the accounting impact? What is the competition doing?’ Equity can answer some of these questions and act as a great compensation equalizer in start-up companies. But each decision comes with a risk and finally it is the decision of the HR managers to realize this risk in coordination with the other departments of the organization and come up with a plan to attract the right talent and major funding. For these decisions affect the sustainability of the business along with the market share and validity of the idea. It makes the task of the HR Managers very crucial to achieve devise the appropriate and balanced policies.