IT-BPM industry in India is about 200B USD and employs nearly 4 million people. These figures aren’t impressive when you compare these with say, agriculture and forestry. What is significant about the IT-BPM sector is its share in the world’s outsourcing market exceeds 55%. Given the growth of investments in this sector from FIIs (Foreign institutional investors), Private Equity, Venture capital and the development of the start-up ecosystem, the future is bright. The revenues are slated to reach 350B USD by 2025 keeping pace with the 5 Trillion USD ambition of Indian economy. As COVID-19 has made significant changes to the way the industry functions, how do HR practices in this sector adapt?
COVID-19 has brought upon a tectonic shift in thinking among the business leaders. Never in the history of mankind, did so many people ever try working remotely for their businesses! The experiment has shown positive results beyond imagination. The environment got cleaner than ever before and cost per transaction in many cases across industry sectors have dropped. Starting with the government, doctors, lawyers and bankers to retailers, designers and engineers, everybody could work remotely in an effective manner on countless occasions. The need for personal mobility and travel has fallen drastically.
Going forward, in our day to day work, many activities are going to be performed remotely. Several companies would combine remote-working in business as usual. Naysayers would say that there are countless activities in the fields of construction, quarrying, mining, manufacturing, transportation, patient care, education, sports, performing arts, tourism, security and defence which require on-site physical presence of human beings. Of course, they are right!
However, science is developing and there are many advances in engineering. In a few years, we will have robotics, computer vision and artificial intelligence ubiquitous in our lives. For each of the situations which require on-site work, there is going to be an increasing amount of automation; thus, there will be a greater and more frequent interface between human beings and machines.
All the above trends have got accelerated in the course of business during the pandemic. Enterprises and individuals are going to embrace technology more and more. The transformation is going to be faster than ever thought before. This is good news for the IT-BPM industry. What can HR teams in the IT-BPM industry do differently while partnering with the business leaders?
Charity begins at home. So, the industry has to automate its processes as much as possible and showcase possibilities to the others. In fact, it has to be at the forefront of the digital transformation. For example, an ed-tech company provides cutting-edge solutions to the market for education; does it use the same for its internal purposes? Most often, its own learning and development system isn’t cutting-edge! Secondly, the technology for educational purposes might also be repurposed for many other activities within the company. Again we see that they make do with some old tools.
Across all functions within HR, a review and new thinking are required. We must have all the HR Tech in use and the leaders in the company must lead by example in using them as applicable for their roles. Employees and other stakeholders of the business must experience the employer brand uniformly and consistently. Companies may be large or small, new or old, giving shape to a disruptive idea or a tried and tested idea, employer brand has to reflect the realities of the business and the beliefs of the founders in an honest and consistent way. HR has a big role to play in this.
We know, culture eats strategy for breakfast. When the boss steps out of a meeting, the culture takes over. The HR team is the custodian of this vital element in the organisation’s foundation and identity. Since this is an abstract property, being its custodian is tough! The times we live are volatile, uncertain and ambiguous, it is not unlikely for the leaders to stay anxious and unsure.
Leaders are human beings and impacted by the emotions of anxiety and volatility. Post COVID-19, the business environment has become more uncertain and ambiguous. People are going to work remotely and alone tucked away in corners of their homes, spend more time on social media, limit their interactions with colleagues, peers and bosses to business transactions and impersonal methods such as video conferences. Group dynamics is going to play very differently from the norms of the past. So, it is likely that many leaders would unknowingly be spotty and patchy while dealing with people and making decisions. HR has to be a true partner and a counsel to the leaders all along these tumultuous times ahead.
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