Nineteenth century ideas of employment relations find themselves ill-equipped, outmoded and counter-productive when applied to a liberal and knowledge-centric workforce of the day, no wonder HR may feel repressive, parochial and bureaucratic at times. We would like to take up employment life-cycle to show where exactly the HR practices are changing or should change for the better. The primary way in which HR can be redefined is when it assumes strategic significance for a company. People are the non-imitable assets of corporate houses and their recruitment, development and retention should assume the highest priority for organizations.
Employer branding and talent pool management: Brand building goes a long way in attracting the talent pool towards an organisation. The branding strategy should be an important HR function.HR helps identify the behaviour required from the employees for brand creation followed by designing, training and development programs, performance management systems and compensation programs in a way that reinforce and promotes ‘brand behaviour’ in their day to day activities.
Recruitment process: Emphasis should be laid on streamlining mobile and social media marketing plans, re-evaluating employer brand propositions and positioning, and following a fair process of sorting resumes, short listing and interviewing candidates. Tailor-made employment agreements which cater to the expectations of the employees and articulate their roles, responsibilities and benefits go a long way towards building the foundations of trust between either party.
Expected date of joining: With the downturn in the industry, job offers, intent-of-offers are being deferred indefinitely. Without proper communication, employees’ frustrations lead to attritions before on-boarding. Efficient HR planning, identification of open positions for on-boarding and proper communication can cut the offer-to-hire time significantly inducing productivity, cost-effectiveness and retention in the organizations.
On-boarding: Instead of making run-of-the-mill presentations and lectures, the employer should concentrate on inculcating the basic organizational philosophies which should ideally be the guiding light for the entire tenure of employment. The employee engagement activities during these days should be well thought out and the different HR policies should be communicated with clarity. This is important because it cements and aligns the mind-set of employees towards the organization and its mission, goals and values.
Training and development: In India, per-employee-productivity is abysmal across business domains. It is no surprise that companies such as IBM and CISCO who invest heavily in training have higher productivity, more competent, hence more secure workers and consequently higher retention rates. Introduction of newer pedagogies of training, where learning becomes fun, people are trained through stories and games are becoming trend-setters in organizational development. Mentoring and coaching assumes special significance in this regard.
Work Actualization: Work-life balance has become pivotal to most HR policies and practises around the world.. Planning in terms of job –rotation, job-enrichment should be worked out so that the right mix of satisfaction and leisure is derived out of the work. Organic organizational structures and quality circles should be used to optimize productivity.
i. Organizational Culture: Matters such as gender sensitisation, cultural inclusiveness have become even more important in our global economy. Employee engagement assumes special significance in this regard which should be ideally extended to even their families as well. Innovation and entrepreneurial activities should be encouraged with regards to employees.
ii. Diversity Management: Organizations today respect the individual choices more. With increasingly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic global workforce managing people has become a huge challenge. Success or failure of organizations in 21st century will depend upon effective diversity management and resource leverage.
Total Reward Management: Remuneration is certainly one of the biggest motivators but what is required at the onset is the clear communication regarding salaries and incentives, right at the time of recruitment. Total rewards mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate both monetary as well as non-monetary compensation.
Appraisals: There has to be an adherence to the appraisal cycle starting in tandem with the financial year. Two way goal setting and continuous and 360 degree feedback approach should be put in place. Supervisors should undergo required training to understand how to set goals, communicate clearly the expectations, be honest about criteria of appraisals and ensure a transparent review process. The weight given to different goals should be with respect to the specific job type and skill requirement. Employee Value Propositions (EVP) needs to be worked out meticulously by HRs.
Succession Planning: A system to identify the employees with potential to lead should be developed along with training to mould them to fit positions of responsibility. Example: WIPRO has a defined process called Talent Review and Planning (TRP) as per which if an employee is 60% ready to take over his bosses responsibilities, they will not recruit somebody from outside.
Career Planning: Employees need to be communicated where they fit in the organisation’s long term plans and changing trends. This allows them to align their skill sets with the available opportunities. Employees should also be helped to trace their performance in achieving the overall goals of the organization.
Separation: With increasing cases of violation of restrictive covenants and fluid movement of workforce across the industry, employee welfare goes beyond the tenure of employment today, to make employees feel more as brand ambassadors rather than competitors in the post-employment period. Employees have to be engaged even beyond their years of employment through alumni networks of companies so that they may be tracked, consulted, re- recruited and certain post-employment services rendered to them. Policies regarding sabbaticals and exit-interviews should be revisited and reworked in the light of high attrition rates of companies.
Conclusion: In this age of a dynamic labour market, HR has to look beyond the body piercings and tattoos, to engage workers at every step, understand the changed value-systems, provide employees with clear transparent information and help organizations learn from individuals. Only then will the shift from HR to Human Capital Management be complete and once this happens the perception of employees towards organizations and HR will stand redefined.
[The article has been written by Rajdeep Chakraborty & Sneha Gopalan. They are presently pursuing their PGDM-HR from XIMB, prior to which they had worked in TCS for around 2.5 years.][/sociallocker]