top of page

Finance and Investment Cell, SRCC interviewed Mr Amit Shukla, Associate Professor at IIT Kanpur in the department of Industrial and Management Engineering, since 2015 and Fellow in Management from IIM Lucknow wherein he shared his opinions on Scope and Growth of HR.

1. What is the scope of increase in awareness among companies as regards the strategic role of HR? Could you elaborate on any possible methods for the same?

The scope is quite wide. There is enough evidence that the way human resources are cared for and nurtured actually creates most of the difference between great and not-so-great organisations. The problem comes in when we see HRD as a mere cost centre rather than an avenue for long term investment, which is further compounded by the fact that investment in this area takes time in generating desired financial and non-financial returns. Quite often, this ‘uneasy’ time lag gives rise to conflict of interest and agency problem, resulting in weak resolve on HR action front. Ultimately, the overall confidence in HRD gets diminished and a vicious cycle ensues. So, a necessary condition to redress aforementioned problems and to institutionalise HR initiatives is to have a firm buy-in from the top management. A slew of pathbreaking HR related measures taken by Aditya Birla Group and its outcomes over the last 2-3 decades presents a good example.

2. Many experiments like the Hawthorne experiment were conducted in the past which helped in the evolution of management thoughts and principles. How do you think management could advance further, given the disruption COVID-19 has caused?

Actually, Covid-19 has brought to the fore importance of accumulated human capital. Companies known to be rich in this capital were relatively more successful in staying afloat during severe downturns. Among other things, human capital manifests itself in form of a feeling of ownership toward one’s organisation. It is this feeling that keeps an employee ‘attached’ to her/his company, fosters discipline to meet schedules, and evokes a sense of ‘together we will tide over it’ when she/he works from home, away from any physical supervision. Formal empirical evidence may emerge in due course, but quick observation shows that the pandemic has re-substantiated the importance of long-term and sustainable investment in human resources.

3. What according to you are the key differences in the manner in which Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z perceive and perform their work? How does HR manage to cater their different needs while making sure that they all are on the same page?

It is true that these generational cohorts vary in terms of their job aspirations. The difference is primarily caused by evolving societal norms, values and greater exposure to advanced technology. Due to the mixed composition in most organisations, I believe it would be difficult to adopt a bottom-up approach for catering to varied needs; rather a more pragmatic approach would be to have a top-down approach wherein culture, systems, practices, rituals etc. are not cut and dried, and are facilitated to evolve with time. For example, a company with substantial youth headcount may promote ideas like fast-tracking of careers, total rewards, reverse mentoring, cross-functional deployment, emphasis on health and familial well-being, and a fun-filled workplace!

4. In this era of pandemic, what are the measures adopted by the HRD to digitalize various processes whether recruitment, attendance procedure to performance management?

Most of these processes were already going through digital transformation, well before the pandemic struck. The latter only accelerated its pace. Almost all the business domains now emphasise the application of AI/ML, HRD being no exception. Apart from improving efficiency, one of the major benefits of many new-age technologies (like LinkedIn based recruitment) is bias-reduction through the reduction of human subjectivity. This could be seen as a more systematic way to attain the desired level of diversity and inclusion. At the same time, over reliance on technology in making important decisions (like those related to selection and appraisal) may render it mechanical and regimented. So, while all the mundane and repetitive tasks can easily be relegated to technology, one should ensure a ‘great deal of’ role for human judgement and ingenuity. Obviously, it is easier said than done, and corporate leaders have this tough task at hand to draw the line between the two extremes.

5. How have the HR job titles changed so far since the conception of HR and what is their scope in the future?

A lot of experimentation on the nomenclature front has taken place over the years. Personally, I find titles hinting at close partnership (like HRBP) with other constituents of the organisation most aspirational. Being mindful of HR issues and allowing HRD to have equal say in making strategic decisions through two-way communication can really be transformational. Thus, more important is that we go beyond semantics and get those nice sounding job titles actualised in letter and spirit.

The interview was conducted via email.


bottom of page