The business landscape across the world is maturing and organisations are in an environment that is global, complex, dynamic, highly competitive and extremely volatile. This trend will only increase, with technological advancements across industries—especially the manufacturing sector.Data indicates that manufacturing industry contributes or supports 5.8 million jobs in other sectors, directly or indirectly. The sector is at the crux of evolution and HR practitioners are grappling with talent flow, engagement, employee development, retention, and adapting to evolving technologies. To manage HR in such a dynamic environment, it is critical to build a solid company culture that percolates across levels and is not resilient to adapting. At TVS Motor Company, for instance, there are some deeply ingrained learnings that define who we are. With the motto of Innovation in Motion, it is our effort to meet the changing landscape, while staying close to our roots. So how do you maintain the balance?
Strong leadership: Every ship is navigated by an able sailor. While the leader determines the culture of a workplace, she doesn’t limit an employee’s freedom, thus cultivating thinkers and not executors. We have regular town halls and CEO speak to keep employees abreast of events happening in the company and the industry. Such initiatives facilitate ‘thinking’ among them, and they feel valued when given the opportunity to have a voice. This also creates a culture of participation with a flow of communication from top-down and vice-versa.
Investment in employees: The age-old belief that an organisation can survive without technology but it cannot sustain without employees is fast changing with the rise of automation. In this case, employees of manufacturing sector, in particular, are wary about their jobs. So, it is important to communicate with the workforce and make them understand their challenges. Conversations about the opportunities they would like to capitalise on will instil their trust in the system, thus backing their growth. As jobs continue to be automated, talent acquisition will change overnight with a special preference given to people with specific skill-sets, as opposed to general labour. We must take steps to build such individuals.
Now, how to adapt to changes in HR?
Customised solutions: As millennials become an integral part of the workforce, HR will have to employ analytics to understand employees in a more customised, individual-specific manner, and provide solutions using contemporary technologies. At TVS, our performance management system, continuous feedback and pulse surveys help us tap into our employees with ease. This participatory and barrier-free culture helps us stay connected to the employees.
Focus on data analytics: As companies become more reliant on technology, every step of employee life-cycle will be recorded. A thorough data bank of employee strengths and areas of development will be available in the resource bank. If an employee has been ranked consistently well on technical expertise but is not prepared for knowledge transfer, programmes can be designed for improvement in that area. Eventually, data analytics will play a huge role in correlating reasons for iteration. While manufacturing sector relies heavily on repetitive jobs, the R&D workforce is extremely critical to development of products and, so, it is a necessity to retain employees for longer durations.
Celebrating your values: While technical advancement is not to be trifled with, personal touch is incomparable in the world of HR. Companies find creative ways to keep their values alive. It is important for people to recognise and acknowledge each other.
For all HR professionals struggling to retain their organisational structure, I must say that change is inevitable but changing smartly is in our hands. We must foresee the future and learn wisely from the past to define the perfect company culture.
The author is senior vice-president, HR & IT, TVS Motor Company