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BW Businessworld

Will AI-Based Appraisal System Help?

Expert panel comprising of leading HR heads from across the sector debate on the merit and de-merit of Human Quotient in HR versus use of AI in appraisal process

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Appraisals often tend to be sensitive and contentious issues at offices where appraise have their set of questions and doubts while those in HR have their answers and explanations. Yet, the process tend to create friction at times. How will the process change for companies once Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into the picture? “How will technology be received at offices? How can AI-based appraisal system work?,” were some of the questions asked by the Session Chair, Hoshie Ghaswalla, CEO, BW Engage, to an elite panel of HR experts representing a cross-section of work places at the 5th HR Excellence Awards 2020. Some of the answers and insights are worth noting.

Responding to the basic question on the need to move to AI compared to the human touch of HR, Tojo Jose, Chief Human Resources Officer, Muthoot Fincorp, said: “To be very frank we have just started…and taken the first step towards e-enabling our appraisals and we haven’t taken the AI route as yet, but we are headed that way.” The Muthoot Fincorp, said Jose, is into financial services with around 3,600 branches across the country. Because the company employs over 16,000 people, it is now migrating towards the AI systems. “So for us, the technology will take care of what is codifiable. We will then interact with people, look at their development needs and so on. 

Basically, the intent is that the routine aspects are taken care of by AI and the qualitative aspect by us,” said Jose.

Ashish Anand, CHRO, SAR group of companies said that AI versus non AI in the performance appraisal system could be “a bit tricky”. “Fundamentally we don’t believe that AI is required,” said Anand. “There is a fundamental difference between digitization and AI, which gives you futuristic performance for modelling. What we have worked upon is making sure that all information is digitally available to you on a real time basis. Finally what do you look at? Today I would have done something but we don’t know how the market will be after 3-months. So no robotics, according to my wisdom and knowledge, can predict to you about how the stock market will behave,” said Anand.

Reema Garg, Group Head, HR & L&D, SMC Group differed from Anand and said she was a firm believer of AI. “What is AI? It is a human augmentation tool, a technology which enhances human productivity and capability. So with the advent of AI we can increase the capability of human beings or maybe the HR personnel who are in the appraisal business can do that. We are into financial services, wealth management, real estate and all financial services under one roof. We have more than 3,000 employees and we have more than 50 offices pan India. We even have an office in Dubai. AI helps us get integrated as then the geography doesn’t matter. Now to manage all the employees across the country AI is a necessity. Looking at the future we won’t be able to function very well without AI,” Garg said.

Pankaj Suri – Executive Vice President – Human Resources, Edelman said: “Our prime objective of having an appraisal system is to see that one has the best of the talent. And the way to have the best of talent is to see that they are happy.”

If one looks at the happiness quotient, it can only be achieved if some of these aspects of motivation when talking about individuals can be linked to their ambitions and their desires, said Suri. “Human emotions and responses are not like AI. For AI, I feel there is some distance before we get there,” Suri said.

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HR Excellence Awards 2020