From good to great: 10 shifts that HR needs to make

D PRASANTH NAIR | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 17, 2016

There was a time when HR professionals were focussed only on managing policies and ensuring compliance with the legal framework. Fortunately, the context of business has changed. Organisations today operate in an environment with reduced predictability even as they deal with increased expectations from all stakeholders. How corporates will navigate this depends on how they manage people and will eventually prove to be the differentiator between a ‘good’ and a ‘great’ organisation. It is in this scenario that I examine the shifts that HR needs to make.

Role Shifts

1. From a Support function to a Business Partner. In a survey conducted by Randstad India, around 30 per cent of the respondents said that alignment of people plan with business requirement should be the key focus area. HR needs to move away from being a cost function to a function that drives business.

2. From Employee Administration to Stakeholder Management.

As shocking events unfolded at a top corporate house in India, we saw what happens when different stakeholders’ expectations are not aligned. Can HR play a role in creating platforms for aligning expectations and governing mechanisms for decision-making?

This is very different from the role that HR has typically played.

Focus Shifts

3. From organisations that were ‘straightforward and fixed’ to ‘transient networks’. There was a time when the organisation structure was straightforward: split along functions or business divisions or regions. But currently business needs structures that are fluid, and individuals will need to operate in transient networks. Further, organisations will see an ‘Uberisation’ of manpower (more ‘non-employees’ than ‘employees’); how can organisations be designed for that?

Additionally, what are the relevant roles in the future, the capabilities needed for those roles, and how do we develop these?

4. From Training to Talent Management and Leadership Development.

The focus needs to shift from pure training to getting the right talent, retaining them and

ensuring that they deliver in line with their potential. HR needs to evolve interventions that can produce industry leaders.

5. From ‘disciplined organisations’ to creating a ‘learning, adaptive and innovative organisations’.

To prepare organisations and individuals for a future with an unpredictable rate of change, can HR enable a ‘Start-up’ outlook, wherein employees adapt, learn and innovate continuously?

6. From using Technology to creating a digital mindset.

There was a time when HR had ‘outsourced’ Technology to the internal IT team. Over time, HR began using IT solutions to improve transaction efficiency and increase access. But there is a lot of scope for HR to leverage technology to improve predictability and reliability of decisions. Going forward, HR will need to create a digital mindset in the organisation. This would imply that HR professionals understand technology and create white spaces to maximise potential.

7. From ‘control’ orientation to ‘connecting with people’.

HR has often been seen as an extension of personnel management operating from a control paradigm. Given the generational change in employees, HR needs to adapt to the changing needs and connect.

8. From Compliance to People Risk Management.

HR has to expand its role from ‘Compliance’ to ‘Risk mitigation’ with the focus on organisation and people risks, including attrition, compliance, fraud among others.

9. From pushing interventions to Marketing and Branding.

Given the competitive talent market, there is a need to build an aspirational employer brand. Also, within the organisation, there is need to market interventions in order to get a greater buy-in.

Measure Shift

10. HR Measures from ‘activities and processes’ to ‘Output’.

There was a time when HR focussed on measures based on activities. Now and in the future, HR needs to take active responsibility for direct business goals.

( The author is Managing Partner of InHelm Leadership Solutions, an Executive Search and HR Consulting firm. Previously, he headed HR for Thomas Cook, Cipla, among other firms.)

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Published on November 17, 2016
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