What’s IoT got to do with HR and People?

As technology makes inroads into the lives of employees more than ever, terms like Internet of Things (IoT), big data and the likes of it have become ubiquitous. The Internet of Things or as it is colloquially called – IoT, is a web of smart devices and sensors connected through the internet and connecting people, their devices and a plethora of information along with it. IoT is still in its nascent stages as we get used to wearable technology like watches that do more than just telling time or smart security systems that use air quality, humidity, audio, video motion sensors to let you control your home even while you are away.

Human Resources make up the work force and the management of that work force in an organization. Globally, corporations and governments are rising to the task of integrating IoT to different aspects of businesses such as marketing, manufacturing and human resources, amongst others. In India, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY), a government body, has launched a draft IoT policy in which HR development is one of the main pillars of IoT effectiveness. To prepare the HR functions of Indian corporates for IoT, it plans to introduce IoT in the curriculum, create awareness through media, create global student exchange programs and create expertise in the field to level the demand for IoT deft personnel.

Benefits of IoT

As IoT gets more integral to people, its relevance will be even more for the HR functions of various organizations. Enabling an organizational culture that thrives on the Internet of Things will allow HR to implement employee benefits like flexi-timings, remote location working and continuous performance management in totality.

Implementation of IoT is relevant to several more areas within an organization. All these areas may need the intervention of HR for successful integration of IoT into daily life. Some of these are mentioned below –

Developing a Quantified Work Environment for Creating Synergy

While IoT has paved the way for promising applications in various domains like industrial IoT, healthcare etc, organizations will have to find out how it aids HR in connecting their employees to augment better engagement. If organizations could convince their employees to adopt wearable devices at work place so that their data could be gathered, it could give HR the capability to develop insights of workforce productivity, cross cultural communication, travel trends, effect of location change on employee productivity etc.

Currently, everyone has a smart device like a phone or a tablet to stay connected with all their information and their contacts. They can access their documents from a cloud and talk to anyone they want to through messaging apps and social networking sites. Devices and humans have a seamless synergy when it comes to personal communication. However, as employees, this level of interaction is missing as the tools to facilitate this seamless synergy are missing. An employee cannot access any data she wants to from her phone and she cannot use analytical resources to take critical business decisions over a smart device either. Whatever is available through mails or WhatsApp is at best a make-shift arrangement until she reaches her work place.

Addressing Employee Vitality

Physical and emotional health is the key to workforce productivity. Part of an HR job description is to enable employees to sustain their sound health. Smart wearable devices like fitness bands, smartwatches can help employees be on top of their health. The data generated from these devices can help the HR to find collective information about their workforce vitality and address the need for any change in work place dynamics if required. It may lead to innovations in work place ergonomics, work hours or nutritious cafeteria food.

Enabling Better Recruitments

In Human Resources, recruitment is one of the most critical domains of the function. With IoT making it possible to gauge employee response during recruitments, it will aid an efficient recruitment process with less subsequent attrition. Consider a situation when augmented reality makes it possible to put an interview candidate in a virtual situation and see their response by tracking it through wearable devices.

On the other hand, potential employees can have a virtual experience of their future office spaces, before taking the big leap. IoT enabled by Artificial Intelligence can make the selection process devoid of bias and bring in more employee diversity.

Measuring Employee Behaviour and Identification

All office spaces are crowded with lanyard wearing or badge carrying employees who use them to gain access to office buildings or to mark attendance. However, these badges could serve as sociometric badges and be used to track an employee’s location, or the stress levels of an employee through her voice tone and heart beat etc. For the delivery industry, it could help in tracking the monitoring speed of the drivers, eliminate the idle time between deliveries, gauge efficient and safer routes etc, all through an IoT software.  One of the examples of an organization is of Deloitte Canada, who redesigned their work place using the data from their employees’ sociometric badges. 

Enabling an Insightful and Agile Organization

IoT will also make it possible for organizations to make actionable workforce analytics a reality. It will give them insights in employee productivity, their time horizons and skill sets, amongst others. This will further enhance the agility and response time of HR in addressing employee issues.

This data which may previously have been invisible to the eye will now be conspicuous. For example, with IoT, HR can gauge the tone of employee conversations to gather data on employee satisfaction. Hence, innovation is the key in developing new ways or new applications that can help organizations to connect their workforce with one another and achieve common goals more efficiently. 

To best embrace the benefits of IoT, any organization will need to have the right work force composition. As organizations deploy new technology, they face challenges such as the resistance to change from older workers, concern amongst staff about their jobs security being threatened or the privacy of their data being breached. The right work force composition can put these challenges to rest. Modern work place skills like agility, collaboration, flexibility, adaptability to newer technology and creativity need to be present in the work force as these are the core requisites to a culture that can imbibe IoT technology holistically.

Juergen Hase, CEO, IoT business, The Reliance Group once opined, “The Internet of Things begins and ends with people, nothing else.” He further stated, “The power of start-ups in India is phenomenal. India is Number 3 in the world in new start-ups in the IoT space.” This boom will also mean newer IoT applications to supplement businesses in their growth. In essence, IoT can pave the way for HR to perform its business based on verifiable employee analytics which has always been difficult to get hands on. This will not only help them with managing current employee workforce and processes but also with attracting potential recruits as an organization that stays ahead of the curve.



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