ROLE OF ‘HU­MAN RE­SOURCE’ IN TECH­NOL­OGY ADOP­TION

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The tex­tile and ap­parel in­dus­try in In­dia pro­vides em­ploy­ment to over 45 mil­lion peo­ple mak­ing it one of the largest em­ploy­ment providers for all the sec­tors. It is rightly said that the ap­parel in­dus­try is dy­namic in na­ture mainly be­cause of chang­ing fash­ion trends, but the fact can­not be de­nied that it is also reck­oned to be one of the slow­est in adapt­ing the emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies; con­sid­er­ing this fact, there is an ur­gent need for upgra­da­tion to meet the new chal­lenges in the in­dus­try. The Hu­man Re­source personnel should there­fore play a vi­tal role in helping em­ploy­ees adopt to the lat­est and fre­quently re­form­ing tech­nolo­gies.

The ap­parel in­dus­try mostly com­prises of less ed­u­cated work­force, and most of the su­per­vi­sors are not for­mally trained on soft hu­man skills. The lack of knowl­edge leads peo­ple in the gar­ment in­dus­try to fol­low the same old prac­tices and the in­dus­try has some­how be­come mo­not­o­nous. Iron­i­cally, an HR which is said to be the strong­est pil­lar in an or­gan­i­sa­tion, is also a vic­tim of this chal­lenge but no­body is even think­ing about chang­ing this. This sheer ig­no­rance of ground re­al­ity leads the ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ers to go through the ‘sta­tus quo’ which sim­ply means do­ing the same thing again and again in the same man­ner and ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent re­sult ev­ery time.

The main prob­lem lies in the fact that the ap­parel in­dus­try lacks for­mal, prag­matic con­tem­po­rary HR sys­tems and in­ter­ven­tions which are es­sen­tial for in­te­grat­ing the dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies in the man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses in or­der to re­duce hu­man in­ter­ven­tion. This ham­pers the growth of the per­son as well as the growth of the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion. Even if there is any growth, it is very slow in na­ture. In this era of fast fash­ion and buy­ers’ chang­ing de­mand, tech­nol­ogy is im­per­a­tive to achieve bet­ter qual­ity out­put and ef­fi­ciency.

The con­cept of ‘sta­tus quo’ and the ‘haz­ards of it’ were well ex­plained by V. Aswatha Ra­ma­iah, Head, Unique Con­sul­tants, Ban­ga­lore.

The work of the peo­ple in an or­gan­i­sa­tion be­comes mo­not­o­nous and lack­lus­tre due to ‘sta­tus quo’ and peo­ple tend to de­velop a rigid pat­terned mind­set as well as feel re­stricted. “Any time, the or­gan­i­sa­tion wants to in­cul­cate tech­nol­ogy, there is an essence of re­sis­tance from peo­ple be­cause they have a nat­u­ral flare to con­tinue with what they have been do­ing, for in­stance do­ing a task man­u­ally with­out know­ing the ben­e­fits of the tech­nol­ogy. Peo­ple only see the tree rather than fo­cus­ing on the for­est,” stated Aswatha.

Above all there is an un­cer­tainty about digi­ti­sa­tion, change of liv­ing con­di­tions and worry about the fu­ture lurk­ing in the minds of such peo­ple. Due to this fear, there is no sense of achieve­ment left in them and their vast po­ten­tial re­mains un­tapped.

In or­der to cope with the haz­ards of ‘sta­tus quo’, the HR De­part­ment of an ap­parel com­pany should play a vi­tal role in im­bib­ing tech­nol­ogy. There are times when the com­pa­nies in­tro­duce tech­nolo­gies and some peo­ple start us­ing them, but due to some tech­no­log­i­cal upgra­da­tion, these so- called tech­nolo­gies be­come dif­fi­cult to be han­dled and re­sult in de­mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple. An HR, in such a sit­u­a­tion, acts as the aware­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tor and helps peo­ple to change their mind­sets so that they be­come re­cip­i­ent to ac­cept tech­nol­ogy. “Re­search has proved that a per­son gets a sense of sat­is­fac­tion when he adopts a new thing and his body re­leases ‘ feel good’ chem­i­cals which fur­ther im­proves the health of the per­son,” quoted Aswatha.

Tech­nol­ogy can be im­ple­mented in al­most ev­ery area of gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing and it is the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the HR to im­bibe the tech­nol­ogy at each and ev­ery level pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, web­site tools can be used in the re­cruit­ment process in the form of e- re­cruit­ments. Re­sume scan­ners can be in­te­grated with re­spect to a pre- de­fined cri­te­ria and ap­pli­cant track­ing sys­tem can be es­tab­lished. Also e- con­fer­ences, e-se­lec­tions and on­line ven­dor se­lec­tion are other modes of tech­nol­ogy that can be adopted

Tech­nol­ogy can be im­ple­mented in al­most ev­ery area of gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing and it is the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the HR to im­bibe the tech­nol­ogy at each and ev­ery level pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, web­site tools can be used in the re­cruit­ment process in the form of e-re­cruit­ments.

in the in­dus­try. Train­ings can be con­ducted with­out phys­i­cally trans­port­ing the op­er­a­tors from one place to an­other. Like­wise, e-ap­praisals can be done eas­ily us­ing tech­nol­o­gyen­abled cloud sys­tem where all the data can be stored on the cloud with­out tak­ing up any phys­i­cal space. With this im­ple­men­ta­tion, the man­ager can eas­ily track the real-time data of the oper­a­tor which will fur­ther help in do­ing ap­praisals.

“Many gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies have al­ready im­ple­mented En­ter­prise Re­source Plan­ning Sys­tem ( ERP) in or­der to man­age the hu­man re­sources, ma­te­rial flow in­for­ma­tion, at­ten­dance as well as time keep­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. More­over, strate­gies, poli­cies as well as prac­tices can be im­ple­mented us­ing web­driven tech­nol­ogy chan­nels. E- pro­cure­ments such as B2B, B2C or busi­ness-to- gar­ment can be en­abled us­ing the HR in­for­ma­tion sys­tems. HR in­for­ma­tion sys­tems per­mit the dig­i­tal pay­ments along with the de­mo­graphic data man­age­ment,” averred Aswatha.

Aswatha shared his thoughts fur­ther stat­ing that the hu­man brain is di­vided into two parts: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is ‘ think­ing’ whereas the right brain is ‘ feel­ing’.

It is very im­por­tant for the HR to un­der­stand this. For ex­am­ple, train­ing on new tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems, SOPs, flow charts, in­struc­tions, and ques­tion­naires on new tech­nol­ogy, new ap­pli­ca­tions, and soft­wares are pre­dom­i­nantly part of the left brain. HR should train peo­ple on these skills. But the real prob­lem starts with the right brain when it comes to pre­pare peo­ple men­tally to adopt tech­nol­ogy. Even if a tech­nol­ogy fails at some point of time, the em­ploy­ees them­selves will make it suc­cess­ful whereas if the em­ploy­ees are not men­tally pre­pared to adopt tech­nol­ogy, they will find hun­dreds of rea­sons not to adopt it. Some of the rel­e­vant steps that can be taken up by HR in or­der to ed­u­cate the work­force about tech­nol­ogy adop­tion are as fol­lows:

Train­ing pro­grammes for change man­age­ment are very much im­por­tant for cre­ative and lat­eral think­ing and should be given the ut­most im­por­tance by HR.

Peo­ple have fear of los­ing their job, think­ing what they will do once tech­nol­ogy is im­ple­mented, es­pe­cially in the gar­ment sec­tor where at­tri­tion rate is very high. Now the HR’s job is to con­vince the em­ploy­ees that smart and ef­fi­cient peo­ple will not lose their job while their na­ture of the job will be­come dif­fer­ent. HR should en­able cre­ative think­ing among the ef­fi­cient peo­ple re­gard­ing the ben­e­fits of tech­nol­ogy, the ease of work­ing, the ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion and the re­trie­ve­abil­ity of the in­for­ma­tion.

HR should en­sure that the term ‘de­mo­ti­va­tion’ does not ex­ist in the com­pany. It will be more than enough to mo­ti­vate peo­ple.

To im­bibe tech­nol­ogy in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, the HR should keep pa­tience as peo­ple need time to change.

An­thems should be played dur­ing lunchtime in the can­teen or while trav­el­ling by buses. It is a hu­man ten­dency to adopt things eas­ily and get in­flu­enced by lis­ten­ing re­peat­edly. So, en­cour­ag­ing the em­ploy­ees to lis­ten to songs and an­thems will make them in­clined to­wards tech­nol­ogy eas­ily.

HR should put up posters about tech­nol­ogy in the premises of the fac­tory so that the em­ploy­ees can see and learn about the im­por­tance of tech­nol­ogy.

Aswatha also en­light­ened about the im­por­tance of ‘mis­sion vi­sion’ state­ment of the or­gan­i­sa­tion amongst the em­ploy­ees. Ev­ery per­son at each level in the fac­tory has dif­fer­ent un­der­stand­ing of ‘mis­sion vi­sion’ state­ment. So in or­der to be on the same page, the HR should make the em­ploy­ees un­der­stand one def­i­nite ‘mis­sion vi­sion’ state­ment. He ex­plained this con­cept by stat­ing the ex­am­ple of Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. “It is just like the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia; if there is some sec­tion in it, im­ple­ment it so that it can be demon­strated.” Like­wise the HR’s main pur­pose should be to main­tain con­sis­tency and align­ment apart from mak­ing the peo­ple aware about the mis­sion, vi­sion, val­ues and prin­ci­ples of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Once these are im­ple­mented, then only things will work.

Sup­port­ing the above con­cept of Aswatha, Anita Sto­gel, Founder of Busi­ness Coach­ing Academy, Ger­many ex­plained the seven step process to con­quer the fear that en­grosses a per­son when tech­nol­ogy is im­ple­mented in the or­gan­i­sa­tion/fac­tory and most im­por­tantly the key role of HR in im­bib­ing tech­nol­ogy among the em­ploy­ees. She com­pared the role of HR with that of a clock while en­light­en­ing the em­ploy­ees about the ben­e­fit of tech­nol­ogy. Just as a clock has four phases, HR has to go through four phases: Warm­ing, Storm­ing, Norm­ing and Per­form­ing.

In the first phase that is Warm­ing, some­thing new comes up and the HR starts to de­velop a sense of pur­pose and de­fines cer­tain goals. HR is ac­count­able to share the vi­sion and mis­sion of the com­pany with its em­ploy­ees. They should make them un­der­stand the brand essence and the USP of the com­pany. Op­ti­mis­ing the re­cruit­ment process that is re­quired by the HR and the hir­ing of good peo­ple is needed.

The sec­ond phase is Storm­ing which is a short phase. As a HR per­son, one should en­cour­age the em­ploy­ees to bond with each other and help build a team spirit within the em­ploy­ees. This is only pos­si­ble by do­ing team build­ing ex­er­cises. HR should closely look into all the de­part­ments of the com­pany dur­ing this phase.

Next is the Norm­ing phase when peo­ple start ac­cept­ing new things. The main role of HR is to build good struc­tures and ef­fec­tive SOPs so that em­ploy­ees can rely on them. This will lead to qual­ity of work and ef­fi­cient com­mu­ni­ca­tion flow be­tween the de­part­ments. Clar­ity means ‘power’. Like IT helps us mon­i­tor our work, in the same way HR is needed to mon­i­tor the growth of ev­ery em­ployee. They are re­spon­si­ble to pro­vide valu­able feed­back to the man­agers.

The last phase is known as the Per­form­ing phase where some amount of growth can be seen in the em­ploy­ees. The com­pany should re­ward ideas of the em­ploy­ees and en­cour­age the peo­ple for more such things. HR should mo­ti­vate peo­ple to come up with ‘out of the box’ ideas that can do won­ders for the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Brain­storm­ing is what is ex­pected. As per some re­search and re­ports, about 70 per cent of the projects fail. “HR should mo­ti­vate peo­ple to learn from those fail­ures. Most im­por­tantly, they should help peo­ple to de­velop learn­ing cul­ture within them­selves, within the team as well as within the com­pany. Learn­ing and proof­ing will al­ways help to over­come the fears and will lead to im­prove­ment. This can be in­cul­cated by train­ing the work­force and peers,” con­cluded Anita.

The hu­man brain is di­vided into two parts: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is ‘think­ing’ whereas the right brain is ‘feel­ing’. It is very im­por­tant for the HR to un­der­stand this.

V. Aswatha Ra­ma­iah, Head, Unique Con­sul­tants, Ban­ga­lore

V. Aswatha Ra­ma­iah, Head, Unique Con­sul­tants, Ban­ga­lore

Anita Sto­gel, Founder, Busi­ness Coach­ing Academy, Ger­many

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