Blog: What demonetization means for the HR professionals

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What demonetization means for the HR professionals

I feel it is important for HR professionals to continuously innovate in their people practice especially working in a competitive market with a change agenda.
What demonetization means for the HR professionals

It's over a month that the Modi government rolled a massive demonetization exercise to tackle corruption, black money and fake currency. And as I stood there in the long queue outside the bank to change my own 500 and 1000 rupees notes, I saw and heard people from all walks of life. There was an excitement and a commotion in the air and I sensed an overall mixed reaction. The line seem to be moving at a snail’s pace, despite some brilliant coordination, dedication and sincerity exhibited by the bank staff. (Bravo Bank employees!, you make us proud..!)

Some claim it is a brave decision towards the development of the country’s economy. They saw long term benefits, including much wanted reduction of black money which of course, is directly linked to the boost of the country’s economy, beginning of the end to corruption, control of fake currency rackets (at least in the initial phases) and importantly conversion of black money into white — leading to availability of more money for transactions in benefit of our country’s economy. On the other side, some were highly critical about this move, more so from the overnight implementation point. Their critique is from the angle that a common man has to suffer the consequences of action taken against tax evaders. They bring into the line of sight 6 Lakh+ villages in India without convenient access to banking, whereby, the rural economy has to take the brunt of extreme difficulty... 

In tandem, Micro Lending which forms the backbone for many self-employed has come to a halt, and thousands of small traders and earners have had to face the consequences of financial inclusion shortcomings... They also believe the corruptors may waste the stashed cash rather than risk to bring it into the open as “income for the current year”. 

This effectively means those huge stacks of cash are lost forever, as opposed to an Evasion declaration scheme, whereby the remaining cash (after tax and penalty), is still available for consumption. One thing is for sure, no one is too sure at this juncture as to what the future holds. It is complex, uncertain and heavily contingent on the action and results of many variables, most important amongst them being “people”. 

By the time I went anywhere closer to the bank cashier’s bay, the day had run out of time. As I was heading back hoping to come in a little early the next day, I was thinking from an HR perspective — what these events could mean to the organization, it’s people and other HR professionals. 

True ... being an HR professional, I strongly believe, that during any change, we should anticipate a better future for everyone, and my personal view is that these events will brighten up the economy and the socio-cultural environment, especially from an organizational standpoint. To draw relevance, Human resource management is heavily dependent on many external factors that can be categorized into “STEEPLE”: Socio cultural, Technological, Economical, Environmental, Political, Legal and Ethical. 

To me, these events will have a larger impact on the economical aspect. Economy, in an organizational context revolves around markets and prices, labor and capital market, wages and salaries spent, employment and unemployment, profits, consumption and investment spending and so on. From a premise that, with a sudden surge of cash flow coming into the economy, Bank deposits will spike upwards, this could mean that the funding capital (in the forms of loans) by the banks for small and medium enterprises/start-ups will go up. Analyses show Gen Y have displayed more entrepreneurial aspiration when compared to Gen X (granted, that we did not have so many banks and VC’s extending funds in those days, nor the emerging and proliferation of digital business)... With more readily available funding, many talented youngsters will prefer starting their own ventures or hop to another company for more lucrative rewards. This will have an impact on the employee turnover through “increased attrition”.

We can see a possible upsurge in the war for talents, be it for trying to retain employees Or for attracting them from industries/sectors which would experience downtrends on account of the latest events.... One such can be the burgeoning real estate industry which is predicted to face prices crashing up to 30 percent! 

The bottom line would be that HR professionals will have to gear up in the wake of the recent developments, using high employee engagement for keeping the employee turnover at safe limits…Yes ...Engagement is the Key! 

In his book, ‘First Break All the Rules’, Marcus Buckingham speaks about how a front line manager can play a key role in both attracting and retaining talent, This only is too true, thanks to Gallup extensive research. The first step for us, HR professionals, would be to devolve our true People skills to the Line managers in the form of Effective training, one such can be Coaching. Through Coaching you can create a sense of ownership to the line managers.. for them to excite and retain their team members. A key factor would be to build trust between the employees and the manager. Trustworthiness can be inculcated in the form of Ability, Integrity, Predictability and Benevolence. 

  • Ability describes perceptions of leadership competence in doing their job or fulfilling their role. 
  • Integrity is linked to being seen as someone who adheres to principles of fairness and honesty while avoiding hypocrisy. 
  • Predictability emphasizes how leadership behavior has to be consistent or regular over time 
  • Benevolence describes a concern for others beyond leaders’ own needs and showing levels of care and compassion. 


Another research shows, Employees place Values and Beliefs higher than lucrative market monetary benefits. Values are what they feel Important to them and Beliefs are what they hold True to them. Employees wanted to see themselves as a part of something larger which has meaning and purpose. HR professionals have a key role to showcase the values of the organizations and connect it to the meaningful pursuits of the individuals. This can be in many forms, starting from involving them in a larger role in Corporate Social Responsibility to a Creative leadership thought of ‘What would you do if you are the CEO of our company for a day?’. The key here is HR has to come out with creative initiatives which can connect the employees through larger purpose. 

‘The grass is always green on the other side’, though so much of a cliché, the fact is at most times it, need not be necessary the same for an individual. Talented employees always want to explore opportunities that can provide them with a larger responsibility, and for them, a role with a little more discretion and autonomy, perhaps with a larger portfolio is very appealing. As HR professionals, we can create such opportunities within the organization.

One way I see this happen, other than traditional career planning and progression is by Reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is a career development practice that helps businesses tap into insights and knowledge of the less experienced, often younger employees for use by Senior executives.

Through Reverse mentoring, an organization can avail benefits such as: 

  • Recognition of Better leadership skills in younger employees. 
  • Improved retention of younger employees. 
  • New perspectives and improved innovation. 
  • More effective strategic plans. 
  • Improved knowledge transfer (in both directions). 
  • Increased job satisfaction. 
  • Reduced ‘generation gap.’ 


All these benefits serve the purpose of both the employees and the organization. 

Most of all, I feel it is important for HR professionals to continuously innovate in their people practice especially working in a competitive market with a change agenda. HRM has always been flexible and is organizationally contingent. It has evolved by constantly innovating itself to the change around it. Socio cultural factors play a key role in its innovative HR practice. Demographics of its talent force will be a driving factor in proposing these innovations. The caveat here would be, to link it in a way that is level with organizational performance. 

At an exciting time like this, It is important for HR professionals to exhibit professional competencies, such as being Collaborative, Skilled at influencing, Displaying the courage to challenge, Driving to deliver and Importantly TO Go Boldly towards the Insights, Strategies, and Solutions for sustaining the capability of an organization to deliver its aims.... for both today and the future. 

Talking about today and the future, it is just about time for me to head towards the bank and change my very own 500 and 1000 rupees notes for a better today and a brighter future! 

Topics: #Blog, Culture

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