HR policies are gearing up for major changes in the workforce

10 September 2019 3 min. read

KPMG India Partner and Head of the firm’s Digital Consulting vertical Vishwesh Padmanabhan has chimed in on the discussions around the evolution of HR in India, particularly in light of the new digital paradigm. In an interview with people Matters, Padmanabhan has stressed that automation of basic tasks is high among organisational priorities presently.

The Big Four accounting and advisory firm has been vocal about the importance of HR in the modern organisation. Across the globe, people are realising that most obstacles in any growth or transition phase emerge at the employee level, spreading the realisation that people are at the heart of every business.

In a report from earlier this year, KPMG highlighted that HR policies must be molded to cope with the rapidly changing business environment, particularly as expectations from the workforce evolve. Recent analysis has shown that in just half a decade employees will have to work in collaboration with a range of technologies to extract maximum value.

Having the right skills and talent is crucial in this scenario, which can be ensured through a combination of strategic recruitment and appropriate learning & development initiatives, both of which fall under the ambit of HR policies. Speaking to People Matters, Padmanabhan has now provided some specifics on how HR policies are evolving.

Vishwesh Padmanabhan, Partner at KPMG India

“The first area of focus for HR is digital labour, or the augmentation and automation of human labour, which is increasingly finding its way across HR processes (recruitment, employee onboarding, performance management etc.) as well with business unit employees. Most companies leveraging these technologies today are utilising co-bots, i.e. bots that work alongside humans, and HR is getting involved in training employees to work with such co-bots. The second area of focus for HR is how to manage the digital native talent that is coming in today and how to build the right mindset to leverage their skills across the organization,” says Padmanabhan. 

In providing this analysis, Padmanabhan confirms what many fear about the advent of technology in the workforce, particularly regarding the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in job cuts. On the other hand, he also stresses that the negative impact of AI on jobs is likely to fade out in the long run.

“What we have learnt from similar technology changes in the past, is that the initial period requires adjustment, but after that time period, technology creates new jobs and roles for employees, which are often hard to envision at the start of the journey,” he said.

According to Padmanabhan, KPMG itself has been engaged in concerted efforts to develop its HR capabilities recently. The firm is not only implementing a range of talent development within its organisation, but is also engaged in HR development programmes with a number of its clients that are undergoing digital transformations.