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Image Credit: Techsquare
Image Credit: Techsquare

In conversation with Mr. Adhiraj Dey,  we discussed about the future of human resource. In his utmost simple words, the HR professional enlightened CareerBuilder India about his perspective on ‘what lies in future for the recruitment industry’.  

In the talks with Adhiraj Dey – VP (HR), ITC 

Q. What skills are necessary for the successful HR professional today?

A. There are five critical skill categories:

  1. Business skills–HR professionals must understand the dynamics of business and possess the financial acumen to assess and communicate how HR strategies impact the bottom line. Project and process management skills also fall within this broad category.
  2. Leadership skills–HR professionals must have the ability to create a vision and strategy to ensure the alignment of the organization with  its strategy and the ability to manage and motivate a team.
  3. Consulting skills–Truly effective HR professionals must develop their consulting skills, with a focus on the ability to market their work within the organization. Cultivating an executive presence through progressive experience working with senior business leaders is also important.
  4. Technology skills–HR professionals must develop a proficiency in broad HR applications and their potential delivery systems. They must be able to apply this knowledge to the business-planning process.
  5. Global mindset–Business is increasingly global, requiring HR to understand the dynamics of the global marketplace. HR leaders should cultivate a staff that is multi-lingual and has direct experience working in other cultures.

Q. How to build the skill set?

A. Underneath are certain ways through which HR professionals can develop those skill sets:

Capabilities – Companies looking for strategic HR talents are now beginning to compete for consulting talent. They are looking for people who can see across many areas.  These broad consulting competencies include:

skills required by an HR

Increasingly, a  track record of business success, based on developing creative and innovative human capital solutions, forms the most powerful resume.  Why?  Today’s business requires HR solutions that are without precedent.  In this environment, a desirable skill set includes:

  • Broad problem-solving ability
  • Systems thinking
  • Solid business background
  • Technology understanding
  • Comfort with ambiguity.

These skills, coupled with an ability to recognize the high leverage points for HR, predicate success for HR professionals. Business acumen and the ability to translate business strategy into effective HR strategy are the skills most desired by business leaders of their HR partners.

This direct experience validates focus group outcomes identifying the following capabilities:

HR Leader Skillsets

HR professionals must be able to present the business case for HR.  A  business orientation and an understanding is required by the HR professional to be conversant in finance, sales, marketing, manufacturing, etc., and know how HR fits into the business’ strategic goals.  All lines of business must be able to express their value through effective measurements—HR is no exception.  So, knowing how to develop practical metrics to measure results and support HR initiatives is critical.  Additionally, as HR evolves to more of an “internal service business,” the development of consultative/customer service skills is important. Currently, there are few HR professionals who combine both business depth and functional expertise.

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As shown below, HR professionals need to understand these interdependencies, including corporate governance, and their role in each aspect of the business.

Gap in Skills - HR

Today, the skills that in-house HR professionals need are generally compliance related.  HR keeps the organization in compliance with the many laws and regulations associated with the workforce.  HR also needs technical competence in specific disciplines like compensation, benefits or training.  These skills have not changed a great deal over the years.  The inherent problem is that it’s possible to be successful in HR with these skills; yet still have no real understanding of business or the ability to contribute on a strategic level.

Q. Within the next decade, what are the primary workplace issues and challenges facing the HR profession?

A. Let me be very specific on this issue:

  • Attraction and retention of talent (including leadership development)
  • Organizational Design / Psychology
  • Neuro Sciences
  • Innovation – Research & Development
  • Culture Change, Build and Sustainability
  • Learning & Development – Human Capital Mobilisation
  • Workforce planning and skills assessment
  • Utilization of technology
  • Globalization process
  • Customer satisfaction and its relationship to employee satisfaction
  • Strategic alignment and operational efficiency in the operation of HR, measurement. Underscoring these challenges is a key objective for HR to express its value added in terms of economic consequences to a business.
  • Leadership development
  • Delivery of training
  • Organizational development capacity
  • Change management skills

Q. What do you think are the workplace challenges in the next decade? 

A. Changes in the workforce—There is clear evidence that the demand for skilled workers exceeds the supply of qualified people. Today’s workers are smarter, more demanding and less loyal than their preceding generation.  In this environment, employees can and will challenge their employers—with significant leverage.

Increased litigation–The aging population will present new legal issues for HR. Legal experts predict that litigation around “wrongful termination” of older workers while balancing succession planning of younger workers will begin to outstrip all other legal issues associated with employees.

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Pipeline of new workers–The aging population presents pipeline issues at the other end of the spectrum. Where will the skilled workers come from to replace Baby Boomers, in case of us ?

Worklife-balance–Even in companies recognized as leaders in promoting Worklife-balance, there is an increasing skepticism whether balance exists for employees. The same technological innovations designed to increase efficiency also enable work to pervade all aspects of an employee’s life.  Are corporate programs aimed at promoting work-life balance just public relations?  Will “Generations X and Y” demand something more and different?

Q. Will the way in which HR work is accomplished change significantly in the next decade?

A. The most significant change will be the impact of technology on HR services and employee self-service.  There is a trend right now for companies to push the extreme in terms of technology and in sourcing.  Over the next decade, companies will find the right balance between technology and people.  Increasingly, HR work will move into the line, with managers handling the majority of HR-related issues.

Q. What are the opportunities for forward-thinking professionals over the next few years?

A. One of the key opportunities for forward thinking HR leaders is to develop the capability within their functions to meet the challenges presented by business in the future. Some companies are adopting a “migration strategy” to build capability within HR. This strategy typically requires

  1. Having a clearly articulated strategy/business design for the HR function.
  2. Identifying the operational infrastructure requirements; and
  3. Ensuring that staff has the skills, knowledge and competencies to flawlessly execute their re-defined roles. In some cases, this may mean recruiting and hiring for business, consulting or systems skills and then providing training in the technical HR disciplines.

The most powerful opportunity for HR professionals is to develop the strategies that can build a company’s brand through its people.  When you think about it, there is nothing that can’t be copied—whether technology, product or strategy.  The only thing that can differentiate Company A from Company B is a common set of values delivered through people.  People will become the critical differentiator.

Q. Will the HR profession survive in the next decade? If not, how will it be replaced?

A. HR will certainly survive in the next decade but will continue to transform.  However, taking a look at HR as it was 10 years ago, there is a vast difference today—and the same will be true again in next 10 years. Future HR will be more powerful and impactful. There will be a greater reliance on technology, delivered through internal and external sources. Finally, the line will continue to blur between HR and line management, as HR becomes more integrated into the managerial role.

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Needs of talent in 2020 and Onwards

Q. What will be the most important needs of talented employees a decade from now?

A. While the above will continue to be important, another set of needs may become much more important. Prominent among these are

  1. Autonomy & Freedom – A peek into the future is visible in organizations like Marriott and Google today. Both are magnets for young employees. Both have an extremely high degree of freedom and empowerment. And both have open and transparent communication processes to share information required by employees to exercise their freedom.
  2. Higher flexibility and work- life balance – Employees are increasingly going to differentiate between selling their skills and selling their life. Contracts will be based on deliverables and not on time spent. Developed economies like us have more than 22 percent of their workforce in the form of “free agents”- people who are not on the rolls of a company. Even traditional forms of employment will change. IBM, for example, has more than 50 work-life balance programs and a significant section of employees who work from home.
  3. Customized career paths – Infosys has recently devised 24 career streams, most Organizations have 1 or 2! Why stop at 24? How about one for each employee? Seems impossible in a paradigm where structure follows strategy and people follow structure and roles. Yet in reality, the growth of each person is unique; why should his career growth not be unique?
  4. TransparencyExampleMindtree has a rule called 95:95:95. In 2020 this rule will become 99:100:100 i.e. 99 percent of the information will be available to 100 percent of the people, 100 percent of the time.
  5. Opportunity to make a difference globally – For many people, work will move from being a source of living to providing meaning to life. The social impact of business will transcend national boundaries. Social networking using technology will override man-made boundaries.

Adhiraj Dey

Author Bio

Adhiraj Dey, Vice President – Human Resources, ITC

A professional with around 20 years of experience in motivating & handling human resources development functions encompassing like Manpower Planning, Recruitment, Performance Management, Development Programs, Performance Appraisal, Training & Development, Policies & Procedures extensive experience. 


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