Article (September-2021)


Not only HR but organisation has to recalibrate work dynamics

Dr. Saagarika Ghoshal

Designation : -   Managing Director

Organization : -  Match Board (Business transformation and Board Practices)


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Do you think there will be need of recalibrating HR post covid? If yes, what would be the focus areas?

SG Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results". Through these days of being 'pandemic time' many of us have had the opportunity to introspect, reflect and think of recalibrating our lives post COVID.

People function which is at the heart of any organisation cannot think of sitting at the bay. A new normal has set itself in motion. India Inc has started to reset its workspaces in preparation of resuming to work after the lockdown. The question is not only HR but the organisation as a whole will need to think how to recalibrate work dynamics and embrace digital transformation in a post-pandemic workplace. This would entail well thought through strategies which would suit individual businesses. For example, some of the organisations are set to redefine seating at offices in accordance with social distancing norms, introduce shift-based work, go virtual with meetings, ramp up cleaning protocol with frequent sanitization and provision of hand sanitizers, and reintroduction of access cards in place of biometric etc. Many of the HR experts agree that some current HR responsibilities will remain relevant. But HR will not simply be able maintain the status-quo. Instead, it should carefully question the processes underlying the current Work and Organisation Structure. Some may need to be digitalized and automatized to remain or become state-of-the art business operations and to enable effective and valuable HR work, and some may need to strengthen their core roots.

In addition to the new challenges, such as the effective utilization of data through People Analytics and the design of employee centric talent management processes need to be revisited. The design of modern workplaces and a culture supporting strategic goals and innovation spirit will especially gain importance. Addressing those challenges are inevitable for future HR success. Needless to say, HR has to pick up the mantle and truly lead the transformation journey from the front in their organisation.

Do you think that employee trust deficit has come down to low? If yes, what factors have been instrumental in this shift?

SG After COVID-19 sent almost every professional scurrying home, and then now when organisations are contemplating to bring them back slowly. Those returning to work might see big changes, they are likely to run into fewer colleagues, at least initially. Those congregating at the office will keep more distance from each other than they used to, and will likely go on fewer business trips. It is likely to have trust gaps or deficits and that might lead to other deficits like performance, peace, contentment etc.

Trust in the workplace means your people enjoy a culture of honesty, psychological safety, and mutual respect. They're proud of their workplace and are more willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for their organisation. Trust in the workplace also helps employees feel secure in their jobs and, in turn, reduces turnover. Trust is really important because organisation's success or failure is often based on mutual trust of Employee and the Employer. It's a no brainer that every professional relationship should be built on a foundation of trust.

I strongly believe that many ways trust can be broken and there are many ways to bridge the gap as well. Trust may be built from the top, down. There are simple ways of building trust like doing what you commit you should deliver, but you'll also find a range of more detailed tactics to improve their trust if its missing. An employee's trust in their superior greatly influences their perception of the organisation. If there is a disconnect between what you do and say, your employees will not be as engaged in their work. For your employees to be committed to doing their best work, they have to have trust in you. This also includes feelings for organisations such as knowing that leaders are on their side, they will be treated fairly and with respect and setbacks will be viewed favourably or at least not with particularly negative consequences. Both sides of the trust coin impact a leader's ability to inspire and motivate employees. People, after all, are still people. While a huge number of tasks can be automated, there is still a need for people who are experts in emotional understanding and that is HR. Lastly HR is always an employee's companion, no matter where he or she is heading for - and supports him or her by putting things on the right track.

How far HR has worked on three factors-Purpose, passion and perseverance to enhance its contribution to business?

SG HR has no option than to embrace the BIG P's. To me HR is a tough profession to be in especially now with the new normal and the newer ways of working, you have to juggle between so many hats. The positive part is that you can instantly see how much of a difference HR can make in this revenue driven world of work. While it is easy to get lost in the daily routine HR tasks, we need to remember why we do what we do - For the Employees and the stakeholders! So, if what we do hinges on our perspective and our approach, stepping back and looking at what you are doing, and owning it at the same time can be tough but should be done. Often, we see some organisations make knee jerk reactions on people issues. 

Recreating Employee Experience in The Covid Era can drastically change. The pandemic is putting business leaders through a gauntlet of tests. It is assessing their abilities in guiding their workforce to navigate a rapid succession of changes. This paradigm is new. Leaders are charting through unfamiliar territory, creating and fostering collaboration as remote working becomes the norm. Many aspects of employee experience that were rooted in collaboration under the same roof have changed. HR leaders should focus on their employees' safety both physical and mental by implementing health guidelines and recommended protocols. Additionally, employees are facing the threat of job cuts in these unprecedented times. Job security has been a major cause of stress and anxiety Organisations must be transparent about their job policies and any impending changes.

It is important to keep communications open and educate employees about the state of affairs. We are in a state where the current situation can change without a moment's notice. Hence, HR leaders must approach reinforcing employee experience with utmost care, compassion and perseverance. It is also the right time to invest in HR tech tools (if not done already) that will help you stay well ahead of the curve. The new normal will stay with us for a while until the next big change occurs. To stay in tandem, reinvent our HR strategies for a better or worse employee experience will enhance or diminish the Employer Brand in a BIG way!

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