The role of the HR function has been one of constant evolution. Keeping up with changing workforce trends and technological disruptions is a constant challenge for businesses. In addition, this has resulted in the HR function playing a multifaceted role in working with businesses and gearing them for success.
For Prasad Rajappan, Founder and MD, Zing HR, today, the role of HR has taken a more proactive outlook. "Five years back, we heard a lot about HR as business partners. Today the role has transformed from HRBP to that of a business enabler."
Prasad sat with Samir MC, Managing Director - Fortune Park Hotels Ltd, ITC Hotels, in a power-packed fireside chat at Tech HR 2022, discussing how the post covid business world has reshaped the role of HR professionals.
Transforming into business drivers
A change that both Samir and Prasad agreed on was the shift within HR leaders to take a much more holistic view of driving business through talent decisions. "HR professionals are now looking at EBITDA margins, top-line performance, and a host of other business metrics when making talent decisions. Many are now thinking on the lines of direct business impact."
"There is a huge role for HR leaders to step into today," noted Samir. For the seasoned MD, the pandemic magnified the role of HR professionals in his industry. "With hospitality being a very people-centric business, HR played an important role. What the pandemic changed was that while earlier HR was seen as a support function, post the pandemic, it has been right in the centre of the action."
"The biggest challenge today is the fight for talent," added Samir, "and that means the role of HR in ensuring business productivity has further accelerated."
While companies have found their way out of the pandemic, the two panellists agreed that the rising importance of talent and having the right people undertaking business processes had created a new mandate for the HR function. "Talent continues to be the biggest asset we will nurture and continue building," said Samir explaining how the HR function plays a crucial role.
Business leaders embrace the change
According to Prasad, companies today welcome and facilitate this strategic shift with the HR functions. "A lot of companies and CEOs that we work with," noted Prasad, "told me that they are looking at HR differently today. No longer are they seeing HR as a purely processing team."
This shift harkens back to the pivotal shifts the business ecosystem has been undertaking over the last couple of years. While exacerbated by the pandemic, the growing discontentment among employees and a rapid rise in business technology solutions meant that the right people today have become harder to find. With a renewed focus on hiring, retaining, and engaging people in the new world of work, the HR function is ensuring companies sustain business growth. For the panellists, the shift encompassed various roles: from monitoring to mentoring, from older, static performance management to newer, more dynamic systems of assessing deep performance, from running cookie-cutter comp and benefits packages to restructured and renewed options etc.
For Prasad, there has been a growing HR trend that has facilitated this shift. "The conversation has also become about purpose vs means," noted Prasad. According to him, the role of HR shifted from simply performing tasks but rather taking a step back and assessing the purpose of why specific processes were in place and deliberating on whether they could be done differently. Many are truly adding value to their companies by eliminating old, cumbersome processes.
"HR has become an enabler of change, especially in the hospitality industry," said Samir. "By helping us change our approach to manning and talent management, HR helped many in the industry to survive and grow post the pandemic."