Human resource management: How to blend touch with technology

This year, several new trends are likely to unfold in the area of human resource management (HRM).

Human resource management: How to blend touch with technology

This year, several new trends are likely to unfold in the area of human resource management (HRM). One of the most watched out for, in my personal assessment, is likely to be the in the art and science of blending human touch with the latest technology surge in the area of people management.

We have seen, in the last couple of years, the growing digitisation trend and application of technology across a wide spectrum of business processes in the corporate world. Human resources, or HR, obviously, could not have been left behind or insulated from the technology fever. We have, over the years, been seeing several technology expositions, conferences, seminars and programmes showcasing the best of the technology-led HR solutions, with extremely powerful impact and application that truly enhance the effectiveness of the HR function and the experience of employees.

Interestingly, alongside, there has been an element of caution—that technology should not be allowed to take over or substitute for the personal relationships and human touch that plays a pivotal role around building deeper engagement and emotional connect. Humanisation of the work environment should not get compromised and diluted.

This is the year to watch out for the balancing and blending of the traditional personal connect, alongside an aggressive application of technology across the various HR processes and practices. It is, indeed, going to be a challenging task for the HR fraternity and business leaders to figure out what the right balance and blend ought to be.

Technology has a role to play in building efficiencies, driving speed, simplifying processes and systems, and scaling up the experience of doing business. The human touch has its significance in building rapport and relationship, bridging communication gaps, building trust, and driving emotional commitment.

While technology appeals to the rational mind, touch connects to the heart, or emotional core of an employee. Both need to go hand in hand. It is not going to be an either/or situation. The appropriateness or the degree of the blend is likely to vary across sectors, age groups, experience brackets, type of ownership, etc.

One is going to see greater application of one of the core competencies, Paradox Navigator, which the noted management guru Dave Ulrich has highlighted in his new competency model for HR professionals. Paradox Navigator is the skill and competency of being able to navigate tensions so that the organisation adapts to opportunities and deals with conflicting priorities effectively. It’s the ability to move from divergence to convergence and back again. Navigating the paradox of touch and technology is going to be very crucial for HR to ensure that the business impact of the two is maximised and leveraged fully. It is not going to be an easy journey though.

In the current frenzy and rush of technology application, the foundation of human touch and personal connect needs to be nurtured; it has a significant role of strengthening the foundation of an organisation and building a long-term sustainable institution. While the debate continues, we have seen organisations and HR fraternity, globally, seized of the need to embrace both.

Needless to say, the impact is likely to be maximum where modernity blends with tradition and touch with technology.

Sushil Bavejia

The author is president & head, Corporate HR, DCM Shriram Group

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