Human Resource Outsourcing

HR 2.0 Re-imagining design thinking in Human Resources Development

Working from home, working virtually, working any time, from any place, on any device will necessitate HR to re-orient themselves and rework policies.

Businesses and marketplaces across the globe are trying to make sense of the new lifestyle impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Organisations and economies are constantly evaluating avenues that can restore equilibrium and help jumpstart slumping livelihoods. At this critical juncture, organisations are leaning on Human Resources (HR) to restore employee morale and boost confidence in the company’s future.

Adapting to this rapidly changing environment required an overhauled approach. The HR fraternity has been prompt and agile in shedding the old ways and facing the unprecedented challenge with new and innovative ideas. HR played a crucial role in enabling organisations to transition from working-at-office to working-from-home, almost overnight. In short, the pandemic catapulted HR teams to occupy a seat on the strategy table from being just a support function.

In 2020 and beyond, it will be imperative for the HR function to step up exponentially. Organisations are looking at HR teams to bring synergies and find unique solutions to the unprecedented and challenging scenarios arising out of the pandemic. It is possible, no doubt. But there are certain imperatives, we have learned, that will be crucial in keeping the HR function in the centre stage:

Adapt and evolve

As supply chains strained due to a travel ban across the world, the need to search for new markets, suppliers, and business capabilities increased manifold. Companies are increasingly localizing and decentralizing to make their operating models future-proof. These efforts are only going to intensify going forward. The HR function will have to respond to the changing reality accordingly with a redefined policy framework.

Working from home, working virtually, working any time, from any place, on any device will necessitate HR to re-orient themselves and rework policies. If positioned right, HR will play a critical role in setting up independently functioning delivery centres that will aid uninterrupted service to the clients, while smoothening out all the complexities of working in a virtual environment. The forming, storming, norming, and stabilizing of this model will become HR’s primary responsibility.

The technological imperative

Technology has been at the centre of this change. It has opened up new channels of interaction and collaboration. It has enabled HR to impact two crucial factors in a company’s growth – one, enabling employees to balance and leverage the overwhelming exposure technology can bring; and second, to create meaningful avenues for employees to upgrade their skills to meet the rapidly changing needs of the New Normal.

Going forward, it will become imperative for HR to be data-driven, to build stories and trends out of insights that data can bring. It should be in a position to predict who is more likely to quit or forecast a spike in work inflow. Data analytics can also enable HR teams to assess leadership styles by simply projecting attendance information of employees in a particular team. The area of Talent Analytics presents innumerable possibilities in this regard. HR will need to be more comfortable with technology to further this purpose. Incorporating in-house analytics tools in learning strategies, for instance, has given us immense visibility in evaluating the learning patterns of our employees, which has in turn enabled us to predictively suggest relevant modules.

Hyper customization

As organisations find their own ways to deal with the pandemic, the needs of businesses are increasingly becoming specific and niche. In this scenario, a one-size-fits-all approach is clearly an outdated concept. Decentralized operations have also allowed organisations to dig into the gig economy, hiring workforce on temporary or project-wise needs. The salary and compensation elements will have to be reworked to suit the new reality.

While organisations were busy standardizing their offerings and programmes until before the Covid-19 crisis, the situation now demands customization. How well an organisation can adapt will determine its ability to attract and retain top-notch talent. For the existing employees, HR will need to find innovative, out of the box ways to bring value to their roles. This will require a re-assessment of rewards, compensation, and benefits structure, along with learning and development modules. The need for HR is to re-imagine, re-engineer every aspect of the employee lifecycle, assess employee touchpoints, and refresh/customize the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Building culture

Now more than ever, HR will have to work with empathy to imbibe an agile and flexible culture organisation-wide. The HR teams will have to develop and evolve the softer aspects of business, infusing passion, motivation, and a sense of belonging, especially in the virtual collaboration scenario as today. The entire approach is to prioritize and focus on the way we look at shared values, careers, rewards, learning, benefits, and employee experience.

Proactively aiding employees in their career path and helping them achieve their aspirations will play a key role in defining the success metric for HR. Design thinking, keeping the needs of employees at the centre, can be a useful approach in building a culture of empathy. The aim is to build personal experiences, stories, and memories, which can arrest levels of attrition in more constructive ways than one.

To achieve all of the above, acceptance is paramount. Acceptance of the new reality. The pandemic has posed challenges, but it has also opened up vistas to evolve and imagine a new future. This is the best time for HR to forge ahead without hesitation and design a world with employees and empathy at the centre of it. By doing so, it will bring value to everybody involved in the process – employees, clients, businesses, organisations, countries, and the world. Now is the time to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent.

This article was first published by The Economic Times HR.

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