Country Head of HR, Nexteer Automotive, Bangalore
As the world is healing back to normalcy from last two years of pandemic and devastation it created on human life, work and businesses seems to be inching towards end of Covid, The employees who have shown exemplary flexibility in demonstrating accelerated speed in change adoption by way of working from home or working from anywhere with 24/7 coverage made companies achieve business continuity and uninterrupted customer service, but it has come with huge cost of emotional, psychological pressure on employees, the days had no boundaries of end and beginning of work was all around with the fear and restrictions of authorities due to the spreading pandemic as well as the responsibility of escaping from infection or taking care of any one in family getting infected or even in some unfortunate cases losing the loved one’s and coming to terms with the loss and sustaining one’s balance was a never heard of, once in a century event has passed in different degrees of intensity for each one of us,
This passage of many life changing events in just 2 years has brought paradigm shift in human thinking and way of life, each one of us has gone deep into questions like “what is purpose of life”, “why am I doing what I’m doing” and so on , relationships and its dependent dynamics are changing,
Going through these unexpected surprises has made everyone more sustainable to shocks, tremors, and unexpected events, this phenomenon has reduced the fear of unknown, accordingly people stated venturing from their known paths to unknown territory, this renaissance is changing the way people looked at their life, relationships, money, profession, career, dogma. Life’s uncertainty and its shortness hit the brain like never before,
Choices become more clearer and less and less fearful, the fear of change/unknown has gone down to its least effectiveness on decision making, so you turn to any side you can see people are choosing paths which is perfect for them not by dogma or society/peer pressure, the urge to prove to others is fading, this very behavior is seen in employees and they started hugging their choices, we can call this “Great resignation” exodus or by any name but the underlining truth is employees have seen, experienced pains much more than their enduring capacity in last two years and now they are ready to rock the boat they are travelling to experiment or choose a better choice which is most suiting their needs, employees are now more conscious of their needs and necessities over their wishful acquisitions, and the historical methods of securing employee loyalty, engagement, satisfaction, perks, awards and rewards, and the weight of recognition has changed their emotional effacement,
So what shall be the new ways for harnessing Human capital in any office or industry, I tried discussing this with many of my practitioner colleagues and bringing them with my own understanding of possible solutions for your consideration,
1. Business knowhow : one of the extremely important competency HRBP’s need to posses is to have complete understanding of business of the company, customers, major suppliers, customers of customers or end users of the product, brand image, if the company is listed in stock exchange what are the precautions on information sharing need to be updated continuously, attend all shareholders meeting to understand the expectations of shareholders, understanding on main bankers company is connected with as well as the overseas sales and forex fluctuations, commodity used by the company and its price points and its effects on end products and business results, must also know the HR indicators such as HR budget and its adherence, Efficiency, people cost as percentage of revenue, fixed and variable labour cost, Attrition, remuneration market trends, hiring turnaround time, new business and new products company is moving into, competency requirement for such new business initiatives, global factors impacting the business and so on… it is this competency for HRBP’s put them on same platform of communication with business leaders and to provide better HR support to business, when we speak in business language with numbers, business leaders accepts HR as their partners rather than a support function. This acceptance of HRBP’s by business leaders allow them to put forward the people agenda and get required support.
2. Business Implications on Human capital: CEO’s and Business leaders always look for expert advice by HRBP on what are the Business implications impacting Human capital of the company as well as how changing HR dynamics in society can impact the business, only HRBP’s can authentically put-forth this knowledge than anyone else, so it is very important for HRBP’s to have holistic view and understanding of complete demography and culture of the human capital of the organization and the consequence of business events on them and how to mitigate and maneuver to safety and positivity to keep the morale and motivation of the people towards the organization. It is the responsibility as well the right of the HRBP’s to alert business leaders on impact of business on people as well as when required people and their culture’s impact on business and its sustenance, so it is the balancing act HRBP to play standing within both business and people function.
3. Advisory role: HRBP is expected to have dual responsibility bring sound advocacy on people issues to business leadership at the same time take harsh business realities, competition, market expectations and efficiency requirements to people, HRBP is trusted partner of both management as well as people be it unions/ work councils or body of managers. HRBP’s must be impartial on all their advices backed by sound data and evidence. This is a great space for HRBP’s to steer the business and company’s future strategies and plans for day today business requirements from HR function and vice versa.
4. HRBP is representative of Human capital : Every employee’s first point of contact is HR representative and he is the one introduce the company and job to candidate and bring him thru the structures of hiring process till he becomes employee of the organization, so it has comfort of any employee to reach HRBP with ease than his hierarchical supervisor or manager, so this intrinsic ability of connecting with numerous employees by the HRBP gives him the unannounced status of People representative in the company, this responsibility/duty to be diligently handled and show courage to bring up the valid points to all stakeholders (business leaders as well as employee groups, unions/work councils)
5. Meritocracy : HRBP’s with business leaders to look for merit of the individual attitude and skill, knowledge he brings into his job along with his passion, potential, morals and diversity approach, living the company culture and most importantly people capability to be considered while rewarding a promotion or granting a retention bonuses to your managers, if you merely go with performance metrics and numbers you might err in choosing an upgraded result-producing robot than a leader. Merit is not just the university degrees or certificates it is person’s ability to carry the people along with him while achieving results for the organization.
6. Compassion : literally means “To suffer together” among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering, many times employees look up to HRBP’s for the support in comparison to their mothers, so it is untold cap HRBP’s wear while dealing with people issues, it is HRBP’s job to bring in people side of the story in coordination with compelling business need of the organization, making that mark in management that HRBP’s are the employee representative is important. While dealing on employee issues it is important to go beyond stated information to look at human side of the issue to aid the employees and to resolve the issues with reformation in backdrop.
7. Integrity : this point needn’t have to be deliberated as this is the essence of human trust and relationships so please establish the culture of integrity based trust relationships, in one of my previous company it was an European MNC where when we discuss a topic as a token of agreement we shake hand in the end of the meeting (the firmness of hand holding while shake hand clearly indicates the degree of agreement on the task to be achieved) once we have a firm hand-shake with our eyes meeting means we are fully aligned and we will go out and implement the agreement.
8. Adoptability and continued learning: these are the most sought human quality in any profession be it in formal sector or informal sectors even in politics and civil services, what makes one learn continuously, our daily habits and practices put thru consistent pattern to see something new and understand it with simple curiosity and investing time and energy leads to this habit of learning and adaptation to NEW. This is fundamental to Human race which has progressed a lot, however what makes some special is who’s rate of change is considerably above the average rate of change, we (HRBP) need to create environment for people to go for this change process and the environment has to reassure the ‘traveler of change’ to be confident, that if he fails life will not stop, HRBP to be anchors of this process, it can be a formal process or informal process but need to be part of the organization’s culture.
9. Emotional intelligence: importance of this competency is the essence of team working and cooperation, coordination and very fundamental to COMPANY (body of people being together), people are emotional creatures and their emotional attachment on whatever they do creates passion, which is essence of dedicating one-selves completely to the task avoiding all the disturbances and temptations, then only there can be astonishing results possible, EI is just not readjusting the once behavior to suit some ones expectation or lip sympathy it is a simple and clear conversation between two where both are comfortable to express, discuss, agree and disagree with an open mind accepting each other’s differences and lead towards purpose of their existence. Need to encourage acceptance and respecting different viewpoints with openness as organizational culture
10. Monoculture to polyculture: As the name represents the monoculture means growing only one type of crop in the field where as polyculture means growing many different crops simultaneously, science has proved sustainable high growth crop is possible in polyculture only, so it a biological evidence that nature, earth, air, water expects all diverse cultures to be accommodates in harmony, it is very important in organizational context also to have diversity of all types to bring in different prospective and this very cross-section of thinking metamorphosis the innovation in the organization, so it is HRBP’s primary focus to foster the diversity and cortile the monoculture.
11. Speed and Agility: these two are the tenets of any dynamic organization, HRBP’s need to work on people process and polices of the company in the light of are they encouraging Speed and Agility or entangled with bureaucracy, enhance the empowerment to managers to look after their teams as they have the full understanding of their needs, there can be many small entities, may be on teams basis have differentiation of policies which suits their needs and administration of those are quick and reach the needy in flash of second rather going through the myriad of hierarchy and approvals, there can be broader frame where the managers are trained on their responsibility on their decisions with the completely decentralized work systems.
12. Equity and Respect: it is very important also to keep an eye and make sure fundamental human values such as equality, fair pay, rewards and recognition to all in accordance with Market practices need to be ensured, there can be sone differences in remuneration but the broader guidelines have to clearly establish to avoid any doubt on subjectivity among employees. Make sure to establish an environment where every individual feels respected irrespective of their differences (age, gender, religion, country, color, hierarchy, etc.)
13. Communication & Transparency : Internal communication and branding outside need to be seamlessly integrated as in this social media era communication can be a strength or weakness depending on how it is handled, so it also an important responsibility of HRBP’s to be part of organizational communication strategy and give insights to leadership on how each communication can have impact employees.
14. Psychological Safety: Employees as well as all stakeholder’s psychological safety is an important aspect of HRBP’s responsibility as the work from anywhere and hybrid working is becoming popular in all companies it is very important to give space for employees to have psychological balance from work pressure and miscommunication due to no face to face contact as well as avoid stereotyping thru internal or external social media type forums. Encourage employees to have Mindfulness and other stress relieving habits by creating an ecosystem in the organization (it can be virtual as well).
I do hope my fellow HR professionals and young budding HR interns can take few insights from this essay and I wish success to all my readers in their journey of harnessing human capital which is the most important differentiator of business success.
All the best
Country Head of HR, Nexteer Automotive, Bangalore
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