Indian Institute of Management, Amritsar successfully conducted its sixth annual HR Conclave, Yukti’21, on August 7 and 8, 2020. During the Conclave, Prof. Nagarajan Ramamoorthy – Director, IIM Amritsar emphasized adapting and improving according to the industry’s needs. He said, “Things have been uncertain in the past 1.5 years, and we need to anticipate and prepare for the real world.” Prof. Chetan Chitre, Students’ Affairs Chair – IIM Amritsar, welcomed the esteemed panellists, spoke about how technology has seeped into the Human Resource Practices and expressed his intent on learning more about the developments being a professor himself. Concluding his address, Prof. Chitre highlighted how he expects all his students to make the most out of this opportunity and learn from the first-hand experiences of the industry stalwarts.
Brief on Panel 1: The theme for the first-panel discussion was “Reimagining HR in the Era of Technology”.
Introducing the theme for discussion, IIM Amritsar students delivered a presentation on the theme of the HR panel. Students of the MBA-07 batch Mr Akshay Kumar and Mr Krishnaprasad V, shared their presentation on the theme stating how technology has impacted the day-to-day HR practices in organizations. They discussed the evolution of technology and how the pandemic has accelerated tech adoption among organizations. They concluded their address by discussing the limitations of involvement of technology, leaving the floor for the panel discussion.
The first panel was ennobled with the presence of Dr Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala (Head – HR, Western Digital India), Mr Sudhir Dhar (Executive Director – Group CHRO, Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.), Mr Sumit Taneja (Vice President and Global Rewards Head – Wipro).
Dr Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala highlighted how tech adoption began much earlier, but the pandemic accelerated the pace. She said that tech was the only solution for large organizations with multiple fields as it not only betters the response time but also helps strategize better. Stating a simple example of resume screening, she talked about how tech was essential for repetitive tasks that required less thought and human interaction. Tech can be tricky, complicated, and yet tempting, she said.
Mr Sudhir Dhar expressed his opinion on increasing attrition and iterated that retaining employees need relationships. Individual and leadership potentials are different, and individuals need to work on both to increase quality. He also talked about the increasing gap between job seekers and providers. While both parties need jobs and have vacancies, respectively, simply wanting to do a job does not guarantee the skill needed to do it. They must be appropriately matched so that both can be at their best potential.
Mr Sumit Taneja talked about the changing landscape of demand and supply regarding pre and post pandemic scenarios. He said that the demand for employment is much greater than the supply, yet retention is becoming a severe problem. He said that the new generation connected better with technology, and its adoption would benefit the organizations. Mentioning the rising Gig culture, he pointed out two main problems concerning the workforce: 1. Is this culture here to stay? And 2. Is it going to change?
Brief on Panel 2: The theme for the second-panel discussion was “Work from Everywhere: Breaking away from notions of yesteryear”.
Mr Anand S and Mr Shivam Saini, students of IIM Amritsar, introduced the theme with their presentation. They highlighted the history and benefits of remote working. They discussed the paradox around a Hybrid workplace, which provides more flexibility, but does not entirely fulfil the need for human collaboration. Change of pace and change of place requires a change of perspective, they mentioned.
The second panel was graced by Ms Namratha Roy (Human Resource Leader, Ex Microsoft, Ex Cisco), Mr Suraj Chettri (Regional Director HR, Airbus India and South Asia), Mr Sudipto Mandal (VP and CHRO, Star Cement Limited), Mr Amit Gupta (Head – Skills and Organization Development, IOCL), and Ms Vasudha Swaminathan Nandal (VP and Head – Human Capital Management, Sulekha.com).
Ms Namratha Roy enlightened how the pandemic has helped align values, trust, purpose, and empathy. She talked about how people are finding organizations and managers that can help them find purpose and perspective, and 40% are willing to change jobs. Students need to learn to say “I do not know” and learn from others to grow in this work environment. There is an increasing need to create inclusive cultures for in-home and at-office workers in this hybrid model.
Mr Suraj Chettri enunciated the importance of reimagining everything for the future and said that this change would come with or without COVID. Work is not about where to go; it is about what to do, and the pandemic has made this thought clear. He said that authentic leadership requires reinventing and reinvesting in work culture to use technology in this hybrid working mode.
Mr Sudipto Mandal emphasized how an organization is not all about production and profit. It is also about employee welfare, and their concerns should be paid attention to as they are an essential part of the organization. Given that around 12 Crore people have lost their jobs, there is a need to address new opportunities and create opportunities for those willing to take them up. Technology is the enabler of this change, and the choice to use it judiciously lies in our hands.
Mr Amit Gupta talked about the importance of empathy and the importance of contextual leadership. He mentioned that the Leadership Model should be contextual, indigenous and should be constructively evolving. He also shared a personal experience from his journey that highlighted how empathy from managers and senior officials is an essential aspect of employee satisfaction.
Ms Vasudha Swaminathan Nandal concentrated on an inclusive environment for employee development and, therefore, better results. Any bias has a very negative impact and should be discouraged at all costs. Technology has played an essential role in increasing the number of opportunities for the employees, but it can not compensate for the trust built after physical interactions.
The students of IIM Amritsar showed great enthusiasm during the panel discussion. The discussions were made highly interactive through a healthy Q&A session between the panellists and students.