From Traditional To Tech-Enabled: Paradigm Shift In HR

Vandana S Ahuja, Executive Director - Talent & Leadership, Metamorph Dynamics Consulting, believes that the increased participation of women is accompanied by a growing awareness of the potential they bring, especially in countries like India, it can significantly contribute to company's growth and even to the country at large


In the ever-evolving realm of human resources (HR), it is the seasoned leaders who bring insightful perspectives that ripple through the entire industry. In this exclusive interview with Vandana S Ahuja, Executive Director - Talent & Leadership, Metamorph Dynamics Consulting, we delve into the insights of an HR luminary with a remarkable three-decade career. Her extensive experience has undeniably played a pivotal role in catalysing transformative shifts in HR practices. 

“The HR landscape has undergone profound changes over the last thirty years, marked by a shift from conventional, in-person training to tech-enabled and virtual learning. Once, the mere thought of online training was a distant concept; today, technology has revolutionised training methods, making them accessible and adaptable in unprecedented ways,” shares Ahuja.

In an era where the external world is in a constant state of flux, organisations are compelled to be agile and flexible. The impact of the external environment on the business world has never been more pronounced. Notably, mergers and acquisitions have become a recurring theme in the corporate world. For instance, during her tenure with a previous employer, she led over a dozen mergers and acquisitions in just four years. This serves as a testament to the imperative for businesses to readily adapt to a changing landscape. Embracing change, she emphasises, has become a cultural necessity for organisations. 

In a noteworthy transformation, HR practices have transitioned from traditional authoritarian leadership to a more inclusive and collaborative approach. “The workplace has evolved into a fertile ground for the exchange of ideas, with learning flowing bidirectionally. Reverse mentoring is a tangible manifestation of this transformation. This practice encourages junior resources to impart their skills to senior leaders. Such an approach fosters an environment of continuous learning and growth,” highlights Ahuja.

Empowering Women in the Workforce

The rising role of women in the workforce, especially at leadership levels, is a change that has been particularly significant. While challenges still persist, there is a perceptible shift in the position of women. Their increased participation across the workforce is accompanied by a growing awareness of the potential they bring, especially in countries like India, where leveraging the female workforce can significantly contribute to an organisation's growth and even to the country at large.

One aspect that she strongly supports is the implementation of programmes to support women returning to the workforce. Having personally experienced the challenges of returning to work after maternity leave, she advocates for the provision of robust support structures. In her vision, these structures should encompass restructured returnship programmes that match returning women with tailored opportunities, facilitate mentorships to aid their reintegration, provide necessary training and upskilling, and recognise the newfound skills and knowledge these women can bring to the organisation. Importantly, it's about creating a supportive environment within organisations where returning to work is encouraged and seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“Advocating for diversity and inclusivity, sensitivity training and workshops addressing unconscious biases, cultural awareness and gender biases is integral to the vision of progress. These initiatives aim to increase awareness and break down stereotypes, fostering an environment where peers, irrespective of gender, are treated equally,” Ahuja added.

A Decade of POSH Policy in India

Reflecting on India's Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy, which celebrated its tenth anniversary, she underscores its impact. Drawing from her experiences in the corporate landscape during her time in India, she highlights the importance of such policies. Notably, her previous organisation successfully resolved a sensitive case between a manager and a direct report, thanks to the guidelines and frameworks provided by the POSH policy. Having been an advocate for these policies since their early days, she underlines their significance in providing employees with the courage to report incidents and maintain anonymity during investigations. The accessibility of technology platforms and hotlines has further facilitated the reporting process.

The Future of HR Beyond 2023

Envisioning the future of HR, HR’s need to solidify its position as a strategic partner to the business. With a comprehensive perspective across all domains, HR professionals are uniquely positioned to bring a holistic approach to organisational management. She firmly believes that HR should have a seat at the board level from the outset, emphasising its critical role in enabling business success.

She identifies several emerging trends that will shape the future of HR:

Remote and Hybrid Working: Remote and hybrid working arrangements are here to stay, influencing how HR manages human capital and fosters cohesive teams, even with employees in different locations.

Integration of Gen Z: The entry of generation Z into the workforce brings a fresh mindset. The challenge lies in keeping them engaged while leveraging the wisdom of previous generations.

Employee Wellness: Employee wellness, including Emotional Resource Groups (ERGs) and coaching, is becoming a priority.

Impact of AI: HR will continue to adapt to the impact of artificial intelligence on work and employment.

Organisations that prioritise their human capital yield immense benefits. By investing in talent attraction, development and engagement, companies set the stage for growth and prosperity. Embracing change as an opportunity for growth and fostering a culture of inclusiveness further enriches employee experiences and drives innovation. Ultimately, by prioritising their employees, organisations can navigate the complex landscape of shareholders, customers and employees to achieve lasting success. The future of HR is promising, and as long as the industry remains open to change and innovation, it will continue to evolve, staying relevant and impactful in the ever-shifting world of business.

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Vandana Ahuja Diversity and Inclusion women employees


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