Continuum 2017‎ > ‎

HR Continuum

There is a growing consensus that the key to superior corporate performance lies within the milieu of the human elements of an organization. Without doubt, employees, more than any other set of resources, determine the success or failure of organizations. For instance, in any private or government, profit or not-for-profit establishment, it is people that set the agenda, objectives and strategies; they create, design, produce and deliver the goods and services and control their quality; they procure, allocate and distribute financial resources; and, they market and sell the end products or services of the organization. So, central is the role of people that it can safely be argued that they are the most influential and responsible resources for the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization.

Management of human resources in the twenty first century assumes a new complexity owing to the fresh realities surrounding people’s needs and demands, organizational stakeholder’s expectations, workplace dynamics and other emerging issues. As in other aspects of management, virtually all known principles and assumptions of managerial practice have been called into question in recent times. To begin with, the typically traditional approaches and tools for managing the human content of the organization have become inadequate, moribund and even inappropriate in today’s business environment. The changing nature of work, owing largely to the rapid development in technology, productivity concerns of investors and other corporate stakeholders, stricter government regulation and enforcement, a shift from industrial economy to a knowledge-based one and the expectations and pressures of employees at the workplace have all made this so. In addition, growing consumer sophistication and discernment, intense intra-industry competition and rivalry, and the impact of globalization all mean that for any organization to survive, grow and thrive, its human resource management vehicle needs to drive in a different direction and gear. In view of this, managing the human assets effectively demands new attitudes, perspectives and competencies that largely focus on encouraging and enhancing creativity and innovation across the organization.

To position itself to sufficiently cope with and overcome the challenges posed by new developments, human resource management is evolving in its outlook, content and context. Several human resource practices signal a new paradigm in the management of people in organizations. Key among these include a shift of human resource management responsibility to line managers, development of the human resource management function as a business partner, change in organizational language, building flexible, adaptable and multi-skilled teams and shift in focus to the customer & use of technology to enable Human Resource functions.

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 is 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,

Redefining Human Resource Management paradigm

Following luminaries participated for delivering lectures at HR Continuum 2017 on March 11th, 2017 at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay:

Ø  Ms Prriti Narain: HR Director Country and Decorative paints, AkzoNobel

Ø  Ms. Aditi Mukherjee: Head HRM, Group Corporate Functions, Tata Steel Limited

Ø  Anuradha Ganapathy: Country Head, HR, Credit Suisse

Ø  Mr. Prashant Srivastava: Group President HR and People Excellence, Reliance ADA Group

Ø  Ms. Aparna Devagiri:  Senior General Manager, Human Resources, 3M

Ø  Mr. Rahul Pinjarkar: Vice President, Human Resources, Saint-Gobain India

Ø  Mr. Ravi Kingrani: Vice President HR, Deutsche Bank Group

Ø  Mr. Santanu Ghoshal: Vice President HR, Schaeffler India

Ø  Mr. Rishi Pathania: Head CSR UPL Limited

Ø  Mr. Rupankar Chakrabarti:  Head HR Operations, Reliance Life Sciences

Ø  Ms. Prutha C H: Head Leadership Academy, Cipla Ltd


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

1.    HR as a strategic partner in making organizations lean and agile

Traditional and strategic approaches to human resources offer an organization different models for meeting employee needs. 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. The HR function can hold onto traditional functions and add new roles to support the strategic management of human capital.

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. 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:

      Globalization: Another key to creating agility is to ‘Think Globally and Act Locally’. The Agile 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.


2.    Redefining the concept of work and workplace: Need of the hour

The freedom to work anywhere at any-time is a social and business breakthrough, and just in time, too. The basic arrangement by which work is accomplished has been changing rapidly as a result of global competition and technology. Incorporation of information technology into the workplace, distributed work arrangements, increased hours and pace of work, and diverse cultures in the workforce have all contributed to these changes.

Commerce and work are undergoing major transformations related to this deployment of information technology. The changes are fundamental in nature and are redefining markets, business models, competitors, work methodologies, the concept of workplace, work values, and the life cycle of skills.

The demands of today’s workplace—long hours, constant availability, self- sacrificial dedication—do not match the needs of today’s workforce, where workers struggle to reconcile competing caregiving and workplace demands. This mismatch has negative consequences for gender equality and workers’ health.

Companies with more engaged employees have better odds of achieving what there organisation desires as engaged employees positively affect the performance outcomes. The bottom line is clear: Companies need to redefine what it means to have an “office.” Rather than a physical space, a workplace is a virtual place where engagement in both a business and personal context occurs. Organisations can increase the level of employee engagement by providing a best practice user experience via easily accessible mobile business apps. “Today, the office is wherever one’s feet happen to be “. The key driver for adopting mobility is “productivity gains and access to information is a key factor that makes organisations more agile.


3.    Human(e) side of business: Opportunity for HR to transform an organization

Enlightened leaders understand that people who love their work do better work. And should that passion for the work, their role or the mission of the company dissipate, those leaders know their business is doomed to mediocrity.

This is why the human side of business movement places people at the centre of its mission.

The switch and shift way isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement. And in the social age, this human side of business is how organizations create workplace optimism that sets them apart; it’s how companies recruit, retain (and repel) employees; it is how they innovate, collaborate, and compete. It is profitable to have a more human-side organization that takes grit, focus and a willingness to grow. It takes an eagerness to let go of the industrial age “best practices” businesses have relied on for years. It takes a belief in people and their ability to function at optimal levels and consistently achieve team and organizational goals, develop people and delight customers. And it takes belief in a social leader who cares.


4.    Consumerization of HR: Necessity or just a fad?

Consumerization of HR refers to creating a social, mobile, and consumer-style experience for employees inside the company. Just as marketing seeks to optimize the customer experience to engage consumers with a brand or product, HR consumerization looks to engage employees more completely with the company culture. This involves more than simply using social media to recruit, on board, and engage employees.


Consumerization supports the way people work today and anticipates tomorrow's needs. Happy employees become brand advocates via their personal social media accounts. As per the Edelman Trust Barometer report, 50% of employees share news about their company via their own social media account, and 58% believe that socially engaged employees are more likely to attract top talent to your company.

So how will HR leaders prepare for the consumerization of HR? Or will it just be a fad which will grow employee’s over-reliance on Facebook and Twitter?

Will it really improve things on the ground? Will it be the same as that of the team of specialists which handles customer dissatisfaction issues and often come up with seemingly brilliant solutions which would initially appear to be key breakthroughs but would later turn out to be no more brilliant than those which had been tried and abandoned before.


5.    Restructuring the organizational design to be future ready

Organizational design is a step-by-step methodology which identifies dysfunctional aspects of work flow, procedures, structures and systems, realigns them to fit current business realities/goals and then develops plans to implement the new changes. The process focuses on improving both the technical and people side of the business. For most companies, the design process leads to a more effective organization design, significantly improved results (profitability, customer service, internal operations) and employees who are empowered and committed to the business. The hallmark of the design process is a comprehensive and holistic approach to organizational improvement that touches all aspects of organizational life, so you can achieve excellent customer service, increased profitability, reduced operating costs, improved efficiency and cycle time and culture of committed and engaged employees.

Today’s businesses operate in the world described as VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. This VUCA environment marked by continuous and dramatic change poses opportunities and challenges for businesses. It requires companies to change the way they operate and constantly reinvent themselves. Being future ready means having the vision and the capabilities to compete in the world of tomorrow, and having a larger purpose to remain relevant to society. Businesses all around the world need to accept the harsh realities of the economic world and are restructuring themselves to adapt to changing environment. Organizations are embracing technology and inclusive innovation that meets the needs of consumers across the socio-economic pyramid, committing to sustainable and responsible growth, building future ready talent and capabilities, values-led and purpose-driven leadership & creating an agile and inclusive work culture.

In such environment of disruption where newer models of businesses are emerging (Airbnb, Ola, Uber) and expectations of stakeholders including employees and customers are changing, businesses need to revaluate their organizational design and restructure it as per the need of the hour. Organizations that invest in such exercise will be better equipped to face challenges and exploit opportunities the future presents.



6.    Workplace diversity: Benefits and Challenges

Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. Diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.

Diversity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability and change. Successful organizations recognize the need for immediate action and are ready and willing to spend resources on managing diversity in the workplace now. An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize the benefits. When organizations actively assess their handling of workplace diversity issues, develop and implement diversity plans, multiple benefits are reported such as: Increased adaptability, broader service range, variety of viewpoints & more effective execution resulting in higher productivity, profit, and return on investment.

Taking full advantage of the benefits of diversity in the workplace is not without its challenges. Some of those challenges are: Communication, resistance to change, implementation of diversity in the workplace policies & management of diversity in the workplace

The competitiveness of economies and organizations in the 21st century is determined by the skills and productivity of the workforce; this, in turn, is directly influenced by the diversity of thought, experiences and perspectives at the workplace. The case for active participation by women in the nation’s economy is today stronger than ever before, with recent studies indicating that India can increase its 2025 GDP between 16% to 60%, simply by bridging the gender gap in the workforce. Several measures are being taken by organizations to improve diversity in the workforce. For example, Group Diversity Council at Mahindra Group is introducing its first Women Leaders Program (WLP).  The WLP is focused on advancement of women in the workforce and will look to encourage and support women employees in the middle management cadre.

7.    Enabling Human Resource processes/functions by use of Technology

Given the advances in technology, it is used in almost every department in an organization be it operations, finance, marketing, IT Systems. Human Resource Management is no exception. Use of Human Resource Information System (HRIS) that allows human resource activities to occur electronically is just a glimpse of how technology is penetrating human resource management. It is not limited to use of Big Data or HR analytics; modern technology is being used in every human resource process/function.

Gamification is one such use of technology that is gaining popularity among organizations. In gamification candidates are assessed or evaluated based on their performance in a game designed to simulate real life problems and challenges faced by an employee. The highly interactive gamification platform helps evaluate the competencies of candidates that are specially customised in line with the employer’s core ethics such as customer focus, influence & impact, quality focus, professional entrepreneurship, drive for results and teamwork. Recently Yes Bank has introduced a game-based evaluation round in addition to group discussions and interviews during the hiring process, at premium B-schools across India.

Also, Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are booming and more and more organisations are leveraging this technology in HR to increase retention and productivity. The reality technology can be used to simulate real world scenarios and situations for employees to help them to gain insight and prepare for work situations. This means the possibilities of reality technology in HR are multiple and almost endless. This technology can be used in on-boarding and probably the largest HR area for application of reality technology is learning. One example is Boeing used VR for training of pilots for the 787. BMW developed an AR training for their service engineers.

Technology thus has enabled various human resource functions and helps in evaluating, assessing and engaging employees. Areas such as use of Artificial Intelligence in HR are also being explored and will further make human resource management efficient.



8.    Data driven human resource management for better decision making

Big data analytics refers to the process of collecting, analysing 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. Some of Google’s initiatives in people analytics include Project Oxygen (to identify the eight characteristics of great leaders), PiLab (to determine the most effective approaches for managing people and maintaining a productive environment), a Retention Algorithm (to predict which employees are most likely to become a retention problem).

To sum up, with data-backed decisions becoming key to survival, more and more HR management software will have in-built analytics to help managers seek answers to their questions.


Panel Discussion:

The event also had a panel discussion on the topic:

“Driving Employee Engagement in Multi-Generational Workforce”

Organization is a composition of multiple generations at the workplace together in crucial relationships, as colleagues, managers, and subordinates, clients' etc. Understanding the multi-generation workforce today is a key focus for HR managers of corporate India. Demographic and social trends will have a significant impact on the workforce in the coming years. It is well known that differences in work values, attitudes, skills, understanding and overall approach to work exist across generations. These generational differences have positive and negative impact on organizations and surfaces out few challenges. Understanding and managing generational diversity can bring a range of benefits and perspectives to the workplace

Studies indicate that by 2020, Millennial or Gen Y are projected to be 50% of the workforce and by 2025 this number is expected to reach 75%. We’re now facing a workplace where in theory, many employers could have employees ranging from 18 to 80 in the workplace. This has huge implications for employers in terms of managing the needs and expectations of Millennials, Generation X and the Baby Boomers. One of the biggest challenges facing leaders will be managing an employee age profile which in theory could range from 18 to 80. Per Randstad India’s ‘Talent Trends Report’ 70% of HR leaders opined that managing a multi-generational workforce is one of the biggest challenges they face.

The panel discussion gave valuable insights on how the industry perceives the multi-generational workforce as an opportunity and various initiatives undertaken by firms to embrace such diversity. The issues being faced by firms due to multi-generational diversity and how companies are managing such a changing workforce were also discussed by the panel.