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AI is the need of the hour

In an exclusive interview with BW People, Ashish Anand, Group Head HR, Religare, talks about the latest trend in the HR industry and how technology is evolving with every passing day. He also talks about the responsibilities and initiatives they have taken at Religare.

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Q- How are the roles and responsibilities of a CHRO evolving with time?

A- If you look at the role of CHRO in the last five decades has completely changed from being a record keeper to personal manager to places where it’s a seat on the table in the board room or the management room. Today all the businesses have easily available capital because there is advent of private equity and the large family offices pumping money in the market, therefore capital is easily available and if you have an idea you can raise capital. Technology is also readily available because the same technology is used for everyone, you can go and just buy technology. The technology which is available in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco can be found and bought in India too. Where we lack is the quality of people whom we get to work with and the execution of the strategy. Earlier marketing was the center, people used to think if the marketing of the product is good then their company will sustain but now the condition isn’t similar anymore because of readily available technology and capital. My experience is of more than two decades and I have seen this shift of what the role of HR is and what it is now. When I started my career many people used to think that if you’re doing recruitment then it’s a primary job. Hiring has become a routine job. How do you stay ahead in curve, what kind of governance you put in the organization etc. Today board members and the CEOs primary look at two people to ask for advice CFO and the CHRO. The two most important functions in the organization are involvement, there are companies way ahead of the curve and companies below the curve. The companies which are a little down are getting it now and improving eventually.


Q- What kind of employee engagement activities today help in reskilling the employees?

A- In my personal opinion employ engagement is very much misused in most of the organizations. Things which engage me as a person may not engage you as a person. Engagement happens at the workplace with the work rest everything is just supported activity. If my liking maybe playing guitar the other person may like watching sports. Companies like us which deal with thousands of people and now we are close to around seven thousand employees across four businesses in three hundred plus cities, it’s very difficult to find out what will engage everyone on a daily basis. In my opinion, if you,’re able to give people a very meaningful job, equal respect what they deserve and help them realize their dreams then I think this is the best engagement you can do for anyone. Any other employ activities like camps, games etc. are all tertiary activities which any way one does. There’s nothing new about it. Eventually, people started thinking fun as employee engagement which according to me is not, it is what meaningful employ addition you’re doing.


Q- What are the initiatives that Religare is taking to avoid gender bias?

A- I firmly believe in doing rather than talking about it. When we look at the resume we don’t even look at the gender. We don’t have any gender quota in our organization. In the business roles there are a very large number of jobs that relate to field but if you go to our processing sector there you’ll find a maa majority of a female. We also tried to figure out where people want to work, if someone doesn’t want to do the collection job as a female then what is the point of hiring someone there? You’re just mismatching their interest level and the interest level of the firm, so what we have looked at is wherever we find where people would be easily available we tend to hire more of female employees there because we firmly believe that female bring more stability than male. So we don’t have any biasedness but certain roles we don’t hire because of the safety issues as well.

Q- What are your opinions on the women-friendly HR policies especially on the working mothers you have in your organizations?

A- We have a creche facility as all organizations are supposed to have. We have also introduced the facility for people who want to come back after maternity. We give an option about their working hours and in case they want to work three days in a week without losing any benefits. You can pick up your working hours. They are people in our organization who have signed up for three days they will work full time and two days they will take off. So for them, there are four days off from work in a week. So there is ample flexibility we give to people and we encourage managers to not put any pressure on people going through family planning because everybody has come to the planet because of the same process. So we are sensitive towards that in our organization.


Q- What kind of HR technologies should one adopt to stay relevant in today’s time since technology has taken over the industries now?

A- In my opinion, it is the most overhyped topic. I started my career with the automobile industry. People used to manufacture the cars and automobiles with their hands and then the machines took over. I don’t think anywhere in the world people have lost jobs, they’ve just re-skilled. I think the technology to that extent has enabled people to be more productive including team management. For example- in a WhatsApp group, if you’re in a team group hat itself keeps you in touch with your fellow colleagues and some of these groups are not only used for forwarding messages but even work. I won’t be surprised if in future WhatsApp replaces email. We can have a Facebook platform where people can get connected. We even used to do facebook live. We even perform con calls where with one con call at a moment you can speak to 2000 people at a time. When you say the things you do people do will feel connected but when you do the opposite there will be no sort of connection built.


Q- What is your advice to the fellow CHRO’s in the industry?

A- I think they should stop believing that it’s a staff function, it’s a line function personally in my opinion because it doesn’t generate revenues by itself on its own but it does everything else which generates revenue. My biggest advice to them would be to feel confident about knowing business as anyone else does. It’s not that they were born with some different skills and you were not. Also, one should be very very friendly with numbers.


Q- What is the one initiative you’ve taken since you joined Religare?

A- We launched the champions premier league which is based on the sports theme because people love sports and it was kind of an IPL format which we used to do on multiple sports theme. We do women connect program particularly for women in one field where  and the chief executive used to meet women for half an hour or forty-five minutes.


Q- What is your take on AI?

A- An idea of employing people can absolutely be left on robots and I won’t be surprised if a robot does a better job in that. Technology if designed well and fine will give you reports that are absolutely correct. So artificial intelligence in the hiring process is whether it’s throwing a good resume on me or not. It does save a lot of time and I firmly believe that AI in the field of hiring is the need of the hour.


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