Internet of Things and how it impacts Human Resources

Everything seems connected to the internet. From cars and mobile phones to the fridge and the lights in your living room. The future of machine-to-machine technology seems unavoidable as people are on the constant look out for smarter applications to fulfill their ever-growing hunger for new information and their desire to do things quicker and better. After SMAC took the enterprise and the consumer domain by storm over the last couple of years, there is a new buzzword that is rushing through the business & the geek world and that is ‘IoT’. So, what is IoT? IoT stands for Internet of Things and it is about creating digital representations of real-world objects. It is a phenomenon that draws on rapid developments within IT, ICT and telecommunications to spark insights and to help companies create entirely new types of services and business areas.

As we move into the Networked Society, there will be an expansion not only in the scale of connectivity, but more importantly, in its scope. Devices will become more capable and more broadly utilized, and when they connect to the internet, they will be integrated into vast numbers of different applications across sectors. This is what is going to drive the evolution of the IoT. And the IoT is already taking off, as organizations, governments and businesses move to better understand – and connect to – their physical surroundings in order to innovate, increase efficiency and become more sustainable.

Current examples that fall into the Internet of Things category include:

  • Fitness and activity trackers that monitor our movements throughout the day
  • Smart thermostats that use weather forecasts to adjust temperatures automatically
  • Web enabled lights that can be controlled from phone apps

So how will the Internet of Things impact the Human Resource function? Here’s how:

Talent Acquisition: Using the Internet today to find people is not a surprise to anyone. Everyone knows about Linked In, Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites in addition to the job boards. However, the Internet of Things is a different entity altogether, a potentially very different way of finding the people that fit our needs exactly. Since everything will be connected to the internet, human beings will not only reveal information on where they are, what they do, what they eat, and how their health is, but it will also help them understand their deficiencies and their strengths. An employer with this information could more easily find someone who not only has the educational and work background they want but could also look at the measure of your creativeness, or tenacity, or some other variable important to the job. This is not the kind of information that currently appears on a resume or a profile, but at some point may be available via the IoT. E.g. When it comes to hiring temporary staff to fill a sudden resource gap, potential new hires will be evaluated and made an offer in real-time, then on-boarded and informed on the spot via their mobile since in the IoT, all the devices and systems are interconnected.

Talent Management: This data would also help in career development from the employee’s point of view. They would be able to determine what experiences they would need to have to accomplish their career goals and would be able to evaluate a company to learn if the company offers such an opportunity

HRIS & Payroll: With organisations deciding to be part of the IoT universe, all the systems & tools will be interconnected via the internet. As a result, the HR professional’s job would be easier with employee related data accessible at the touch of a button. Many of the errors which occur due to data entry in the HRIS systems & tools would primarily be avoided.

Conclusion: Even as machines become more intelligent and capable, there are some essential business qualities, including contextual problem-solving, relationship-building, and innovation, that are uniquely human. At least at the beginning, devices in the IoT will need human managers if they are to be truly effective. Humans will also be needed to take full advantage of the new IoT businesses springing up all the time. Human resources is essentially about developing a workforce’s capabilities, and that will be more important than ever as the IoT takes us where no one has gone before.

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Disruptive Thinking in HR

Before we get into the concept of Disruptive Thinking, let us understand the meaning of the terms Disruption and Disruptive ThinkingDisruption takes a turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says that a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.

Following on from this brief definition of Disruption, let us try to understand what Disruptive Thinking is. Instead of defining it, let us imagine a real life scenario. Take the case of any major airport in India, if you are dropping someone off for an early morning flight, there are likely many other people doing the same thing, making the departures lane crowded with traffic, slow, and frustrating. But – very few flights are arriving in the early morning, meaning that the arrivals lane is wide-open. Try dropping off your passenger at the arrivals gate – sure, they may have to go up one level to reach the security lines, but the time and frustration you both stand to save is more than worth it.

HR often gets a bad reputation when it comes to Disruptive thinking. Now, we may ask ourselves why is Disruptive thinking required in HR. To find the answer to this question, we need to look around us and understand that if we as a function are going to go about functioning as the staid old HR departments of yore in the current dynamic business environment, are we going to keep pace with the constantly changing business scenarios and challenges? Can we effectively function as Business partners if we refuse to think out of the box?

We in Human Resources are a conservative lot, we care about consensus, for one thing. We tend to be careful and cautious, for another. In HR, risk often feels more dangerous than interesting. Disruption seems to require leaps of intuition, something of a maverick mind set, and a real willingness to take on risk. So does that mean HR can’t think disruptively?

No. In fact, disruption isn’t anathema to HR at all. In fact, it is essential to HR. Now stay with me out here! The point is, if a company wants to be a disruptive force in the market, that disruption must start with human resources, not trickle down to it. Because it is people, not products, that are at the heart of disruptive thinking in any company.  Here’s how Karl Moore put it in a Forbes article:

The mind set and culture of your HR team has an exponential impact on the entire organization: everyone is influenced by HR. Therefore, changing your organization and becoming more successful and innovative begins by tearing apart your beliefs on this role. Who is in a better position to campaign for and express the culture and needs of your organization at all touch points (hiring, policies and programs, new employee on-boarding, succession planning, performance management, etc.) than HR?

I think we all get that disruption / innovation is important for success. But it is also true that caution and consensus have their place. HR has its own style of innovation. We can’t and won’t charge cowboy style into disruption for the sake of it. Luckily, there are ways to innovate, and ways to bring this dynamic into your company culture while still building agreement and mitigating risk.

One way to do that is simply to pay more attention to what is already there and simply amplify it. Find the things that are working best in your organization—the disruptions that are already there—and develop them. Here are some very simple ways to extend the innovations already seeded in your company.

Get Clearer Insight: The first step in causing disruption is having a clear understanding of what is happening and where. Find ways to manage your culture and get clear insights into how your values are faring down on the ground. Identify those outliers in your organization who are currently out there innovating and taking risks, and learn from them.

Use the Technologies You Have: Look at the technology you already have at your disposal. Are you making the most of it? Can you use technology such as electronic communications or enterprise social tools in new ways? Employees are data consumers via technology in their private lives—are there ways you could bring that same level of control, fluidity and self-service to more mundane HR functions, such as benefits or reporting?

Use the Data You Have: More than ever, HRIS tools are generating powerful data. Are you making the most of the data you’re creating? Think outside the box. How can you use data from one function to strengthen another? For example, recognition data can be instrumental in helping you to identify top performers for succession management. Are you just collecting data, or are you analysing it and leveraging it in innovative ways?

Realign Processes: We all have processes. They are a critical way to make work scalable in any organization. But processes can be one of the worst offenders when it comes to blocking disruption, because they make us resistant to change. You don’t have to break all your processes to innovate, but you do need to be willing to rethink processes that may be causing you to stagnate. One perfect example of this is the performance review process. Is yours working? Could it be better? Could simple adjustments like referencing input from crowd sourced performance data help you to make reviews significantly more meaningful?

Get Out in Front of Change: Are you aware of the next big thing in the field? Are you ready for it? Learn what the pioneers in HR are doing. You may not be ready to implement everything tomorrow, but you’ll be able to see it coming, prepare the ground, and make the leap when it is right for you.

We should not let anyone tell us that HR cannot think disruptively!

A beautiful article which I was lucky to read on Dr. Lisa Christine’s blog. Had to share this.

Lisa Christiansen's Wealth Of Wisdom

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They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen.  The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab  people,”  whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and…

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The Importance of LinkedIn

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Since it was founded in December 2002 and launched officially on 5th May 2003,  LinkedIn has taken the professional networking world by storm. Though it may not have clocked stupendous membership numbers like its other famous social media network i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn has become the be all end all tool for working professionals to network on and be seen on it. I wont be exaggerating if I say that it is embarassing for a working professional not to have a LinkedIn profile nowadays. I for one, do make it a point to search for a potential employee’s/clients’ LI profile first before meeting him/her in the real life (yes, it still does exist in this age of social media).
As of January 2013, LI has reported 200 million members in 200 countries and terrritories and growing at a phenomenal rate. LI actually helps people to expand their professional networks, canvass for real jobs, form their own relevant alumni meetings/groups, company networks, etc. LI has actually turned the recruitment game on its head and revolutionised the same with its capability of giving the recruiters the opportunity of publising their requirements across the LI population in their immediate network and specific Groups present on LI, which they are a part of. Media & industry analysts estimate that LI is actually eating into the revenues of job boards like Monster, Careerbuilder,etc. And LinkedIn is actually making money. It reported revenue of approximately $972 m in 2012. It listed on the NYSE on 19 May 2011 after filing an IPO in January 2011.
Today, if you are in the job market for real, you would be committing professional harakiri if your LI profile is not updated. Such is the aura of LI in the HR world ( I dont know how much of that is actually real) that, recruiters by default post the requirements on LI first, and then source resumes through the other traditional soure of hires. LinkedIn has been described by TechRepublic as having “become the de facto tool for professional networking”. LinkedIn has also been praised for its usefulness in fostering business relationships. “LinkedIn is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today,” according to Forbes.
There are many amazing features which LI has which enables the users to create a very practical social resume on the internet which is visible to the entire world and the recruiters, of course.

8 ways to get noticed at work

There are many things people resort to, to get noticed at work. Simple things which employees can do to enhance their personal branding at the workplace.

All of us know businesses thrive on strong relationships, so we do all we can to impress our clients and external stakeholders.

Most people, however, pay little or no attention to their relationships with peers, bosses and co-workers, though this might seem an obvious thing to do. Here’s how you can become the ‘Go to’ person and get noticed at work.

1. Walk around for 15 minutes everyday

Offices are like mini-families. Most of us spend up to 11 hours a day in close proximity, sharing the same office space, facilities, break rooms, refrigerators, coffee pots, etc, with our work colleagues. Everyone shares responsibility for making the company work, run smoothly and stay profitable. Keep aside about 15 minutes a day to take a round, greet all the people you know with a smile and exchange pleasantries. A smile and a warm handshake can wear off the stress most of us go through. Besides, making this effort adds to your desirability factor at work. And, even though it is considered a cliche, do remember smiling is contagious.

2. Give your colleagues importance

Tell a senior management executive how much you appreciate a certain colleague or subordinate. Do this in that person’s presence and you would have won his/ her trust as well; besides, it will make your senior colleague respect you. Be as specific as you can; for example: “Ram, I want you to know what a great job Vishal did at the presentation yesterday. We are all lucky to have him in the team.” Do remember not to sound patronizing when you do this. If a veteran employee is retiring, organize a goodbye party; if someone is being promoted, set up a happy hour with your co-workers. Take initiative and others will take an instant liking to you.

3. See/ hear your name

Have you thought of contributing to your organization’s newsletter or Website or the journal that gets distributed within the organisation? Since company publications are frequently read by top executives, you’ll be increasing your personal PR while establishing yourself as an expert in your chosen area. It’s a great way to blow your own trumpet, albeit in a sophisticated fashion.

4. Join a committee or task force
Join a company-wide committee. Interacting with the same colleagues everyday won’t increase your exposure; however, working on a committee with new people gives you an opportunity to make new contacts. It also gives you the opportunity to show your talent and skills to people who matter within the organisation.

5. Mediate a conflict

Workplace conflicts are most common and therein lies the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and management skills. When done correctly, it can give you amazing results. If you are trying to resolve a workplace conflict, do not get judgmental and take sides; rather, just serve as a facilitator and establish the ground rules for professional conduct at work. Keep resolution of the conflict in mind at all times; do not get involved or become emotional.

6. Offer a helping hand

Fill it up. If you’ve used the last piece of paper in a shared copier or printer, fill it up again even if it means going to the supply room to get another ream. After you’ve poured the coffee into your cup, take a minute to make another one for the next person in the queue. Offer to mentor that new recruit at work or share a trade secret — something that will help a colleague look good before his/ her boss. Often, these small gestures help you build relationships and also spread a good word around about you at the workplace.

7.Your best performance

There is nothing that will give you more exposure than getting the employee of the month or quarter award at the Rewards & Recognition event. Since these awards are often given by the top management, it gives you an opportunity to put your name before the key decision makers in your organisation. Remember, you won’t get ahead with mediocre performance, regardless of how many other steps you implement.

8. Stay updated

Read industry publications, reports and magazines, and be aware of market trends. Your knowledge will reflect when you communicate with colleagues and they would look up to you for advice and information. They will also talk positively about you with other members of the team. There is nothing better than third party publicity, as it establishes you as a thought leader within your organisation. Don’t shy away from self promotion and PR at work. If done well, it can have a positive impact and help you get ahead at work.

In Today’s Job Market how important is Stability?

As a HR professional, I go through a lot of profiles where there is no resemblance to so called accepted norms of Stability yet find such candidates being hired by the HR depts of various companies. Do you think the term called Stability, is it over hyped in todays fast paced engagement less job market or is it important? What is the ideal tenure you think a person should spend in an organisation?…

These are some of the questions which come to mind when I think of the over hyped term called Stability. Stability in terms of tenure is defined by different people differently. Its all in the mind I say. Most of the professionals today change for the cash & the designation, role or profile be dammed or if they are getting cornered in their present organisation.

Other way of looking at it is there are very few companies which manage to engage their employees. And the no brainers sitting in the recruitment team are just not willing to look at the bigger picture and to understand why the person might have changed jobs.It also differs from industry to industry.Where there is a shortage of talent, employees in those industries would tend to show less stability.Ideally the resume should show the candidate showing some kind of progression in his professional career or getting exposed to new areas of work to justify the changes.

Overall, I feel a tenure of 2 years or more in an organisation fits the criteria of stability and anything more would be ideal. Also, when we have doubts over the persons stability it should also be looked at the candidates background rather than taking a superficial view…

Employment Branding

Employment branding is the hottest strategy in employment.

It is one of the few long-term solutions to the “shortage of talent” problem. Whereas most employment strategies are short term and “reactive” to job openings, building an employment brand is a longer-term solution designed to provide a steady flow of applicants.

What is an employment brand?

Employment branding is the process of placing an image of being a “great place to work” in the minds of the targeted candidate pool. It is a concept borrowed from the business side of the enterprise. Product branding is designed to develop a lasting image in the minds of the consumer so that they start to automatically associate quality with any product or service offered by the owner of the brand. An employment brand does the same in that it creates an image that makes people want to work for the firm because it is a well managed firm where workers are continually learning and growing. Once the image is set, it generally results in a steady flow of applicants. Employment branding uses the tools of marketing research, PR, and advertising to change the image applicants have of “what it is like to work at the firm.”

The goals of employment branding

A successful employment branding strategy does the following:

  1. It develops a common theme so that current workers tell friends and contacts a similar story about what it is like to be an employee of the firm.
  2. It builds and reinforces the public’s image of the firm’s culture, work practices, management style, and growth opportunities.
  3. It coordinates the employment brand with the company brand and its different product brands.
  4. It continually monitors the firm’s employment image both inside and outside the firm to ensure the brand image remains strong.
  5. It energizes the best potential candidates to apply for jobs at the firm.

What is included in a firm’s brand image?

  • The company’s culture
  • Management style
  • The quality of current employees
  • Career opportunities
  • Stable employment image
  • Impact of the product/service on the quality of peoples lives
  • Image as the leading firm in the Industry or geographic area
  • Benefits and work/life balance options
  • Learning and growth opportunities
  • Awards and honors it has received
  • The quality of its products

The fact that it is a challenging but fun place to work.

Characteristics of a great branding campaign:

  1. It creates a sense of urgency and an intellectual curiosity to act immediately. It encourages people to visit a web site, ask others about the firm, or apply for a job.
  2. It engages your mind, heart, and dreams.
  3. Is complementary with the firm’s product ads and PR.
  4. Gives a clear, compelling reason to work there (save lives, change the world, be the thought leader, be on the bleeding edge of knowledge).
  5. Is consistent with the views of our current
    employees as an accurate representation of what
    it is like to work here.
  6. It gives the impression that it is fun, challenging, prestigious, and rewarding to work here and that people look forward to coming to work everyday.
  7. It has “legs” and can serve for a long time as our employment message.
  8. It works just as well for the whole company as it does for
    individual business units and geographic areas.
  9. It is believable, sincere, and isn’t a slick PR piece that says “phony”.
  10. It sends a message about our products, tools, projects, management style, culture, and opportunities. It gives the impression that “people like me” are proud to work there.
  11. It is thought provoking and makes you think about your future career.
  12. It makes you compare your current firm to ours.
  13. It has a catchy theme or slogan.
  14. It makes small firms look bigger and big firms look more agile and like a start-up.
  15. It makes me feel that “this could be my dream job and dream company”
  16. It works equally well in any form of media.

Its message is “current but timeless” and excites across generations and job functions.