Article (September-2021)


Staying relevant in all times is the key for HR

Jitendra Sharma

Designation : -   President - Group Human Resources

Organization : -  Wilmar International Renuka Sugars Lmited, Mumbai


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

JS Recalibrating HR is the need of the hour; organisations adapt their employee practices from engagement to experience. This implies that employees must find meaning in their role, quality of life and freedom to experiment with their Career within an organisation.

Many companies have realised this, and the needle has begun to shift rather swiftly across the world. Continuous learning is being fostered within organisations indicate that the function started to address these inner yearnings of their employees to stay relevant at work and grow. It also means that a more conscious attempt is to be made to walk the talk. The Onset of pandemic required organisations to adopt new and creative ways of managing employees during Work from Home. It also required employees to seek new ways of addressing the challenges they faced at work while exposed to stressors characterized by uncertainty and the loss of life leading to anxiety, which consumed many individual resources, making it difficult for people to function well. Employees had to begin working from home, demonstrating the same efficiency level with no slack amidst the crisis. Researched evidence points out the post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms during the initial phase of this pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic, with its associated consequences of unsettling changes in daily living, has caused elevated anxiety levels. This means HR needs to carve a new approach altogether. The affective component acquires immediate attention for work to function smoothly.

Focus areas are :

1. Change of work base (WFH) : We need to recalibrate the performance goal setting and performance evaluations as per the remote context.

2. Increased Investments in technology for regular use in internal communications/chat, monitoring employee engagement and well-being to understand employee experience better and using technology to collect employee health & safety data will assume greater importance.

3. HR automation : Organisations can design, streamline, integrate, and deploy necessary services swiftly at a considerably lower cost, which in turn help teams make intelligent business decisions with insightful reports. HR professionals must take the initiative and understand how emerging technologies will enable digital transformation across teams and functions to achieve more significant business objectives.

4. Rise in the notion of Gig Workforce : Continue to expand the use of contingent workers (gig workforce management post-COVID-19). We need to recalibrate how performance management systems apply to these workers and determine whether they will be eligible for the same benefits as their full-time peers."

5. Hear the unheard : Our support should be extended but not limited to financial, physical, and mental well-being, which includes enhanced sick leave, financial assistance, insurances, adjusted hours of operation, child care provisions, offering community relief funds, and free community services, can ensure to take care of their emotional needs as well.

6. Critical Skills : Essential roles were viewed as roles with critical skills or the organisation's capabilities to meet its strategic goals. Now, employers realize that there is another category of critical roles - roles that are critical to the success of essential workflows.

7. Team culture and culture of inclusiveness to be created.

8. Value their Opinion Going forward, employees and prospective candidates will judge organisations by how they treated employees during the pandemic, which has a long-term impact on the employment brand.

9. Sensitize the Organisation : We need to build a more responsive organisation, design roles to increase agility and flexibility. Also, provide employees with varied, adaptive, and flexible roles to acquire cross-functional knowledge and training.

10. Post pandemics customize performance management, career trajectories, re-skilling and provide career development support.

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

JS Trust deficit refers to the lack of belief or faith an employee has in an organisation or leaders they work with. It results in a lower productivity rate and lack of interest in work and other ways. On the other hand, trust motivates them to produce better results and work harder.

Teams showcasing trust in their abilities has a direct impact on their productivity and belonging at work. Employees with a high degree of trust are less stressed at work, thereby benefiting the company's bottom line or having a trust deficit. The lack of trust in the organisation results in a heavy impact on business.

Important factors cause trust deficit in organisations due to Egocentric behaviour, Communication gap, and lack of empathy-similarly, Acceptance, Frequent interaction, and Compassion bridge the trust deficit.

Leaders who do not inspire trust cannot bring out the best in their teams-bridging a trust deficit required time and equal effort from both the employee and the employer. Trust is the fundamental stone for working relationships in organisations.

HR provides the employees a forum to voice their opinions which helps their level of trust in the employer, superior, leaders, and team. HR needs to encourage a more inclusive culture with all views and differences to create more progressive as modern, trustworthy organisations.

The factors determining trust in the relationship of employer and employees are delivering on promises, provide job security, fair compensation, and good benefits, communicate openly and transparently, operate ethically and provide equal opportunity for compensation & benefits for all people regardless of differences.

Culture is fundamental to overall strategy and performance. Investing in culture has increased their financial performance and increased profits.

  • Uncertainty is responsible for the trust deficit. Organisations must go back on their promises when the pattern of change is unprecedented and not comprehensible too. Factors have been:
  • Uncertainty of the environment and lack of organisations walking the talk
  • Automation, AI, and machine learning slowly replace repeated or Non-value adding roles in the workplace
  • Employees looking for purpose and moving on if organisations cannot do this
  • Lot of collaborators are doing work, and hence dependency on the employee has been reduced
  • Employee's compensation is not fair
  • Does not provide equal opportunity for pay and promotion
  • Lack of strong leadership
  • Employee turnover and does not foster a collaborative work environment.

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

JS Purpose, passion, and perseverance require an ecosystem for it to flourish. It should be embedded in every aspect of the talent management life cycle. It is here that Strategic Human Resource Management by HR acquires prominence. If operational elements are outsourced, HR can focus on helping cohorts of employees find jobs purposeful through a systematic development plan. I think this is being initiated in some of the organisations.

At the stage of talent acquisition, these things are checked, but most organisations still talk about their values, vision, and ideas without making in-depth efforts to secure the right fit. This results in burnout, emotional exhaustion, and high rates of attrition. Work from home has resulted in overworked employees with no timelines. Skill gaps and no proper coordination between industry and educational institutions have resulted in candidates taking jobs and learning to live with them.

Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance are the foundation of a leader's success. Leaders need to recognize where they fall on the passion-to-purpose spectrum to effectively marshal the resources (and energy) to chart their own paths.

Here are some famous quotes for Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance helps leaders to follow : 

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." - Oprah Winfrey

"The Purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you have infinite patience and perseverance, success is bound to come. No mistake in that." - Swami Vivekananda

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