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HR comes of age, it's now the new normal
In comparison to various other disciplines of management, HR has evolved the most and is still evolving. HR in its primitive form had been more of a maintenance factor.
There was a time when workers in an industry were treated just like any other resource or means of production, and maintaining industrial relations was the prime HR function, if there was one. When we look at today’s HR it appears to be completely transformed. Particularly in last few years, many organisations have started leveraging HR to unleash their people power. Human resource management has now taken the form of talent management as organisations find that it is collective talent of their people which will make them grow and thrive. People are no longer a cost. They are the most significant value creators. Such value can be created only if the organisations have right people to match organisational requirements.
The HR function in an organisation may have any nomenclature but its biggest concern would be to find matching talent for various functions in the organisation.
While organisations have become choosy in deciding who will work with them, employees too have become selective in deciding about the job and organisation, which define their career. As far as expectations are realistic this should be considered good. The traditional means of hiring is making way for sourcing through referrals and social media. Selection methods too have become rigorous and varied.
More and more organisations are going for competency mapping of applicants while earlier, a paper pencil test and an interview was considered enough. In many cases, candidates have to undergo three or more interviews before the employers come to a conclusion about their suitability for the job. While assessing people, it is becoming more common to give greater focus to potential than qualification.
Since talent is now considered the key input and differentiator, organisations are finding it necessary to invest in this talent to reap larger benefits. This investment takes place through training and other capacity building programmes. Now the training is not restricted to just classrooms. Most of the progressive organisations are of the view that in this digital age, learning should be available on tap.
E-learning has already been there. Now platform of mobile phones has also been used for disseminating knowledge. Also, more and more organisations are going for experiential learning programmes to inculcate soft skills like team work etc in their employees. Gamification has come as anew tool for employee motivation and engagement.
Technology is pervading all aspects of human and organisational working. HR is also getting technology driven. Taking care of routine activities this support of technology has given more time to HR professionals to focus on value creating factors. Online filing of job applications has become common. People can submit their leave requests, claims, and performance reports in the system. Intranets have become a powerful platform to share and communicate. Programmes are available for competency assessment and performance or productivity measurement. Technology in HR is proving to be of immense use for evaluating training needs, matching people with roles and similar things. Big Data and analytics in HR are expected to become game changers in talent management practices. The challenge is to keep the technology simple, cost effective and save it from becoming too impersonal.
HR is also trying to create happy workplaces. Theme parties, celebrations, competitions, decoration are making workplaces livelier. Flexi working, which till a decade ago, was permitted by very few organisations, has found wider acceptance.
'Work from home’ options first introduced in IT companies, are also being provided by more organisations now, and is not limited to IT companies. For many young people, availability of the 'work from home’ option is one of the deciding factors in choosing a company.
HR in addition to being a support function is a strategic business partner now. Almost every crucial business decision takes into account HR considerations. HR is gradually taking centre stage, and is being considered as important as marketing and finance functions. For boards too, HR issues have become serious business. The road to corner office, considered quite long for HR professionals, has shortened.HR is claiming its glory, which it always deserved.
Employer branding is a hot topic for today’s corporations and here the contribution of HR is vital .While branding products and services is left to marketing professionals, employer branding is dealt by HR. Building an employer brand is significant to attract talented millennials. Last but not the least, HR is now focused on bringing best out of people, make leaders out of managers, let people know that they are capable of doing more and better and help them realise their potential. With such contribution HR should really be considered coming of age.
(The author is Chief Manager, Business Process Re engineering, Bank of India)