Onimia -The Panel Discussion at DISHA 2013 : Insight into the discussions by Panel 2

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Onimia, the official HR Panel Discussion event, was conducted at a bigger scale than before. HR mangers from companies spanning various sectors participated in 2 panel discussions. The discussion of the second panel centered around the topic – “Do technology driven HR Initiatives have a humanizing/dehumanizing effect on employees?” which was moderated by Prof Col. James P.S. The panel consisted of some eminent speakers who presented their viewpoints on the topic.

Micheal Fernandes – Delivery Head (India), Practice Leader (Talent Management) and Director (Middle East & Africa) for People Business, stated that “ A car will take you where you want to go, but the question is, where do you want to go?”. He rightly said that technology can have a positive or negative, humanizing or dehumanizing effect, depending on how it is used and the objective or motive with which an organization employs it. He expressed that 40 years back, not many questioned if Graham Bells’ invention of the telephone would have a dehumanizing effect, because it was meant to connect and inform people. In the same way, if technology is used in the present times to help people interact in ways that will add and not subtract values, that would help people express their individuality and nurture the human spirit and freedom, then it can definitely have a positive effect.  Mr. Fernandes said that a ‘swipe card culture’ should not offend anyone if they show up at office to do an honest day’s job. He concluded by stating that technology driven initiatives should be made user friendly in order to aide all levels of an organization.

Mr. Naresh Kumar Pinisetti – Director (People& Culture), Vestas Wind Technology India, stated how in his experience, ‘country culture’ matters. The same ’ticketing system’ initiative was received differently by employees in Australia and by those in India. HR Managers in Vestas Wind Technology later realized that people abroad are more task centric where as Indians are more relationship centric.
He went on to explain how different departments within the same organization can also have different technology initiatives depending on their individual department culture. He mentioned that in place of a formal induction ceremony, their organization allows new employees to play around on an e-learning software so that they can learn more about the company in a technology friendly manner and also how under the ‘High Potential Talent Management Program’, a page has been developed in the company intranet that enables youngsters to network better .  Mr. Pinisetti finally stated that technology is here to stay and we cannot do away with it, the effect it has depends on how we choose to use it.

Ms. Pallavi Gupte, Head HR, Dun and Bradstreet, started with the limitations that an HR faces before implementing new technology in an organization; the main one being ‘cost efficiency’. Ms. Gupte explained that the management looks onto the cost aspect before any technology initiative is undertaken with less regard to the HR’s intention of bringing a new perspective to the organization. She gave an example from her own organization where they tried to put all talent assessment processes for the employees online for the convenience of the managers. She concluded with the note that technology’s impact depends on its effectiveness and that “objective defines success.”

Ms. Dola Mukherjee – Head of Human Resources, Syngene International, started off with questions such as what is dehumanizing in HR, what each individual needs to contribute to the organization, what is HR and what do they do. She explained that an HR department is responsible for operation of an organization, measurement of profitability, identification of expectations of new employees and how can the company fulfill them, achievement of customization so as to gain revenue, profitability and benefit of the organization as a whole. Ms. Dola felt that this favored dehumanization but stated that dehumanization comes into effect from genesis only, and that it is the need of the industry today.

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