Sreeni Kutam is the Chief Human Resources Officer at ADP, a provider of human resources management software and services, and is a member of the company’s executive committee. Earlier in his career at ADP, Sreeni served as Division Vice President, Human Resources, and as Vice President, HR Strategy & Planning, leading the alignment and linkage between key HR initiatives, workforce planning, resource allocations and operating plans to ADP’s human capital management and business objectives.
Here are the excerpts of the interview with Sreeni.
How do you envisage the future role of HR and how much of it is going to be driven by technology?
Individuals from the current generation have broader perspectives and exposure to several innovative ideas from around the globe on their fingertips. The importance of keeping employees always engaged has never been higher.
As a result, HR will have to cater to their needs in real-time, and they can do this by introducing technology into every aspect of the employee’s career lifecycle to provide the experience they demand. For instance, organizations could introduce technology solutions which provide weekly tips to leaders on managing talent on a strength-based approach.
Digital HR is the new norm for HR. This is vital to enable everyone unlock their true potential and play an impactful role in delivering efficient results as an organization.
Experts seem to be divided when it comes to automation and its impact on work and jobs. What's your take?
Experts continue to be divided on this. While some opine that automation will render humans jobless, another section believes that automation will bring in more efficiency. In my opinion, if the blend between technology and humans can be handled well, there will be no stronger team than this combination.
Contrary to the general belief, automation will take several more decades to replace humans because it’s difficult to mimic a human’s thought process. Hence, in the meantime, organizations must focus on identifying repetitive and taxing parts of the daily jobs and see if they can introduce technology to quicken them. This will help employees focus on higher value jobs and give them more time to think out of the box.
CIOs and CFOs are casting an eye on the 'people' agenda. Do you think HR leaders need to act now or they will be reduced to transactional tasks?
‘Great companies are built by great people!’ Several forward-focused organizations have built strong and close-knitted fraternity upon this philosophy. While some chose to accomplish this through enhanced continuing focus on diversity and inclusion, a few other organizations went a step ahead and vested their people with the responsibility of impacting major decisions through regular surveys and feedbacks.
Companies don’t make people great; it is the people that make great companies. Putting people at the core and functioning around them is important for making them feel valued. Employees that feel engaged see the true value of things that HR does for their development, which results in the organization’s progress flowing through the employees. There is nothing more attractive for an individual than the prospect of working for an organization that has strong people-oriented values around aspects, such as engagement, social responsibility, and development.
What are we going to be talking about in five years as the key issues facing HR?
Since HR is at the intersection of all other teams in organizations, it is important to build HR teams without any loose ends to ensure nothing disrupts the operations. To build such robust HR teams, organizations must proactively address the following:
- Growing fear amongst humans that automation will cannibalize into their jobs.
- Managing an environment where employees, bots, and gig workers work in partnerships. The biggest challenge here will be to enhance their philosophies and practices, while complying with all applicable laws that could add more confusion than cohesion.
How do you see the emergence of the gig economy and its implication on the future of work and businesses?
Organizations are slowly realizing the millennial preference to be a gig worker. They are realizing benefits by employing a lot of temporary help agency workers, free agents, contract workers, on-call workers, independent contractors, and freelancers to do parts of work that were once done by full-time employees. By doing this, organizations save heavily on:
- High-priced office space
- Staff welfare
- Training & development
- Electricity, water, etc. in some cases
At the same time, it is also important to cater to some of their needs. Hence, we will see several organizations enhance their philosophies and practices to meet the needs of gig workers with respect to feedback, compliance, benefits, flexible working hours, etc. This will boost partnerships between internal and external workforce. Such partnerships will benefit the individuals, in terms of enhancing career profile, and the organization, in terms of delivering efficient results.