Article: HR consulting firms need to be adaptive

Employee Engagement

HR consulting firms need to be adaptive

Chaitali Mukherjee, Country Manager – India, Right Management on why HR consulting organizations need to be adaptive toward dynamic business conditions
HR consulting firms need to be adaptive

Several key developments have affected the HR industry in the past 12 months. While Indian companies are growing, most of the growth has not been in sync with the earlier charted out plans which has led to a lot of dynamism in the plans and thereby has led to a high degree of uncertainty. Changes in business growth plans have also impacted the hiring plans of organizations, thereby impacting the hiring industry.

Two major challenges in the talent management space that get pointed out in the current business situation by various clients are:

  1. 1. Increasing scepticism about the quality of talent that is available today, thereby the need to focus on identifying the right talent, developing the talent across levels for the appropriate roles in the organization and
  2. 2. Amidst the uncertainty around the business, ensuring engagement levels of the employees are not dipping. The lack of engagement is particularly impacting the productivity rather than attrition since disengaged employees are neither making the shift from their current roles nor adding as much is required for the business. Many organizations remark that one of the key reasons for low productivity among employees stems from low engagement.

Infact, organizations are looking at the aspect of engagement far more strategically. Conversations on engagement have moved way beyond conducting engagement surveys, conducting offsites and teambuilding exercises to more concrete analytics based action planning which result in interventions that focus on ROI for the organization and providing clarity to employees from a business and career perspective. In the last few months, the focus of career conversations with employees has gone up significantly. Employees also are far more informed about the difference between just a ‘job’ and ‘employability’ and hence seek clarity on their careers and intrinsic value-add to their knowledge, skill or exposure rather than designation changes. Hence they value open communications about organization’s plans and the linkage to their individual careers.

The second aspect of talent that organizations are focusing at a strategic level is ‘Identifying, Developing and Managing High Potentials’. Earlier, high potential management was more about an organizational investment in its high potentials so as to manage the engagement and recognize a few ‘high profile’ or critical talent’ from the rest. However now, Organizations are looking at it as ‘Win- Win Proposition’, thereby the focus of these High Potential Programs is about What’s In It for the Organization and What’s In It for the High Potential from an organization’s perspective. Thus managing the High Potential Program to deliver the ROI for the business and ensuring it is sustainable is as important a phase as the design of the program and its delivery. Organizations thus are seeking a two-way commitment between the employee and the organization as part of this strategic investment.

Talent management thus is driving the following key trends in this current year, viz.

  1. 1. Focus on improving quality of talent that is right for the organization today and for the future
  2. 2. Managing engagement which is more outcome driven for organization returns and career prospects for the employees and
  3. 3. Building and sustaining High Potential Development Interventions that drive returns both for the employees and the organizations

As an outcome of the above three trends, the fourth important trend that is visible is the focus of organizations on defining ways to catch talent early and groom them for their organization and thereby build a pool on a continuous basis from within. This has resulted in a significant rise in the number of companies who are exploring the opportunity to create corporate universities / learning academies or and learning centres that focus on their core competency requirements – be it functional, domain, general management or leadership to groom talent from within and also build a certain culture that defines the DNA of the organization. This paradigm shift is the acknowledgement that the talent is the most important asset in times to come, that it’s important to acknowledge that instead of looking for talent that is 100% ready organizations are willing to take in talent who are 60-70 per cent ready and groom them .

The shift from cost-based to value-based conversations presents a key opportunity for HR consulting organizations. HR buyers in India are maturing and increasingly, conversations are more about the right questions, which is a significant shift away from tactical questions that consulting organizations faced in the past from the demand side. The Indian clients with their exposure and learning agility are more matured when compared to other developing geographies. Owing to the fast-paced growth, Indian organizations have seen more challenging transitions and hence they have created an environment to learn from each other and that too rapidly.

The key threat that Indian HR consulting organizations face is the threat of obsolescence. With the advent of talent whose demographic and thinking profile is changing significantly and the advent of digital media as a necessary mode rather that a ‘good to have’ feature, it will be important for the service organizations to keep pace. If they are unable to catch up with the fast changing business conditions, they will find it difficult to stay in the market for long. HR consulting organizations, therefore, have to be ahead of the curve when it comes to competencies such as being dynamic and agile. In terms of business models, organizations have to start building long-term partnerships based on business strategy, thereby moving away from a vendor mentality to a partner situation, so as to ensure that the consulting partners can also add value not just in the short term but also over the long term and business accountability and impact on both sides are interlinked.

As told to People Matters

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Strategic HR, #HRIndustry

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