15 February 2017 16:03:23 IST

Redefining the role of HR in today’s world

Xavier group of schools jointly hosts HR meet on ‘Rethinking people management’ at XIMB

Today, India is on the cusp of several technological, demographic and social changes that have a direct impact on employees and those entering the workforce. The plethora of challenges for HR in an organisation calls for a dynamic approach — continuous adaptation and changing the tools needed to survive in this complex and competitive environment.

To discuss the changing role of human resource management, the Xavier School of Human Resource Management and Xavier University Bhubaneswar jointly held a National Conference on the theme “Re-thinking people management” on February 3 and 4 at the XIMB campus. The conference, a landmark HR event, was a platform for useful interactions between human resource managers and students studying to be HR managers.

The events began with a pre-conference workshop on “Research Methods for Behavioural Research” on February 2, conducted by Prof Satya Bhushan Dash, IIM Lucknow.

More inclusive workspaces

The first day of the conference focused on two sub-themes – ‘Harnessing Human Capabilities for the Modern Workplace’, and ‘Redefining Work: HR in a VUCA and SMAC World’. It also saw papers presented on a multitude of topics covering many aspects in the world of HR by academicians and research scholars.

Prof Neharika Vohra from IIM Ahmedabad, in her inaugural keynote address, spoke of various ways to make the workplace more inclusive, cognitive biasing processes in the human mind and the steps that organisations can take to change that.

During the first panel discussion, Rajeshwari Narendran, Director, Academy of HRD, highlighted several factors now pervasive across organisations. Richard Lobo, EVP and Head HR, Infosys, stressed on the power of networking and finding the right balance between machines and humans. People need to work together for greater success of the organization.


The second panel discussion focussed on the world’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) nature and SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and clouds), two concepts that have completely changed certain HR functions.

Bobby Pattnaik, Location HR and Senior Unit HR Manager, Infosys, explained how technology has changed the larger picture of HR functioning. The quintessence of HR has altered with its operational aspect becoming automated and this change has facilitated an HR to move from a traditional role to a more value-adding one.

Some of the other speakers of the day were Sunil Jha, President-HR, ACG Worldwide; Parthasarathi Mishra, CHRM, Tata Steel; and Bibaswan Dash, HR Manager, Microsoft.

The day’s end acquired a cultural flavour, with a captivating dance performance by Nrityashala Odissi Dance Institute, Bhubaneswar.

Effective engagement

Day 2 of the conference saw a panel discussion on the sub-theme of ‘Employment Relations: Moving Forward towards Greater Effectiveness.” Now employees shift jobs with the slightest of advantage that they garner from the shift. Thus Employment Relations (ER) and Industrial Relations (IR) have to reinvent their focus and strategies to remain current and meaningful.

Eminent panelists such as P Dwarkanath, Director, Group Human Capital, Max Life; Vijay Sinha, Senior Vice-President – HR, JSW Energy; Rhiju Bhowmick, Ex-Global Head, Diversity and Inclusion, Diageo; and Saroj Mahapatra, Director, Jaipuria School of Management, spoke about ways in which the effectiveness of employee relations can be taken several notches higher.”

To be the best, a business has to attract and retain the best. This calls for transparency, trust and communication that can lead to effective ER, said Dwarakanath.

The two-day conference concluded with a valedictory address, by Bijay Sahoo, Group President – HR, Reliance Industries as the chief guest. Sahoo spoke about technological advancements that are going to change the future of people management in all fields. Mousumi Padhi, Assistant Professor, Human Resource Management and Fr. Augustine, Registrar, XUB also addressed the gathering. Snigdha Pattnaik, Dean, Xavier School of Human Resource Management (XAHR) delivered the vote of thanks.