There are quite a few anecdotes and examples in corporate corridors which are used to label and generalize HR function as “I will get back to you” standard response function. This is because somewhere it has failed to show the expected degree of bias for action.
A business HR may be paying a great lip service to its line stakeholders but for it to become a credible partner, it needs to show the drive for execution. HR can certainly move things provided it goes beyond the comfort of interaction and adopts a hands-on approach.
One of the key responsibilities of Business HR professionals is to regularly connect with the employee customers whom they support. In-fact best of the class organizations are putting a lot of premium on these connects. They are maintaining robust trackers and comprehensive matrices to track various connect dimensions like frequency of connects, connects coverage, duration of connects, type of connects etc.
With time, these connects have assumed innovative forms like All hands Meet, Open House, Discussion session, Floor walks and different shades like, Formal connects –Informal connects, Connect with supervisor- Connect without supervisor, One to one connect-Team connect, Connect with agenda- Connect without agenda etc.
A comprehensive connect calendar with detailed schedule and agenda is also nowadays shared in advance with the employees so that they are mentally prepared for connects and can keep the discussion items ready.
The underlying objectives behind holding these different connect sessions varies from company to company depending on the context:
- To get a pulse of the employees
- To share important information and updates
- To address various queries
- To solicit suggestions and ideas
- To address various concerns and issues
- To show care and concern for employees
- To improve employee satisfaction and engagement.
Connect Efficiency vs. Connect Effectiveness
No doubt, the ever increasing focus on process orientation of connects has improved the efficiency of connects i.e. the way they are being conducted and organized but yet are they proving to be equally effective i.e. the extent to which they are meeting their objectives and achieving their outcomes is something that calls for some deliberation.
It is encouraging for associates to know that they have a receptive HR who makes a sincere note of their problems and suggestions but this delight cannot be sustained unless they see a strong intention and serious attempt at HR’s end to action upon them.
The fact is that in most of the cases, the real work of HR actually begins after completing the connect session. With every connect HR raises the expectations of its stakeholders who closely evaluate its effectiveness in dealing with the connect findings. What matters is not only the quality of connect session but also the extent to which the HR partner can go in addressing and resolving the surfaced issues.
Some of the fundamental questions we as HR professionals need to reflect upon are:
- Are connects more of a routine periodic activity?
- Have connects become more transactional with time?
- Is there a standard SOP being followed for conducting connects which makes them even more mechanical?
- Are connects acting as a feeder which employees are using to feed their issues, queries and suggestions?
- Have employees got used to connect to such an extent that they wait for this opportunity to share their concerns or raise their queries and don’t express it otherwise?
- Is connect as a KRA being measured in terms of coverage or on the basis of extent of closure of the items which have come out of connects?
Well! What is interesting is that when connects are effective, not only the confidence level of employees who have attended your connect in past goes up but it also reinforces the trust of other employees who would be attending your connect session for the first time. The members start looking forward to your connect.
When people are able to relate with connect led actionables, the word starts spreading across that connect with HR is an extremely fruitful exercise and it is worthwhile to give elaborate feedback and suggestions during such sessions.
Elements of Effectiveness
Talking about effectiveness of connects; there are 4 steps to it:
- The issues/concerns/observations/suggestions highlighted or raised during the session were objectively recorded.
- They were given due priority and seriously taken up with the corresponding stakeholders for resolution
- The status of closure or progress on action taken was timely shared with the respective employees.
- A post experience check was done with the employees to confirm that the problem doesn’t exist anymore.
What also needs to be done is to derive trends and patterns from the findings of connect sessions. We need to watch out for common themes which might probably be affecting rest of the teams also who are working in similar work dynamics. The need here would be to proactively reach out to other teams and ascertain if they are also facing similar issues.
There would be some areas where immediate intervention is not possible due to budgetary constraints or organizational limitations. In such cases also, HR must circle back to its customers and share the logic why these items cannot be closed upon. Surely employees will be able to relate with the reasons if they are taken into confidence.
Some Best Practices
Best of the class companies today are resorting to innovative ways of reaching back to members with status updates on the actionables derived from the connect sessions. Some of these unique practices are:
- “You Said- We Did” series wherein a confirmation email is send to the teams on the actions which have been taken by the company in response to their inputs during the connect sessions
- The connect tracker in put on the intranet or placed on the shared folder so that teams/employees can check the status of their issues online on a real time basis
- SPOCs (Single Point of Contact) for different domains like Transportation, Technology, Facility, and Cafeteria are nominated from the teams who closely work with line HR on behalf of the team. They also keep the team members updated on developments and updates.
- Task force of expert members is formed to come up with collaborative solutions.
- The supervisors and team leaders are trained, equipped and empowered to deal with certain set of issues locally there and then.
- Percent Closure achieved on action points is shared with Business in monthly Operating Reviews.
- Periodic dip stick surveys are conducted to capture employee satisfaction over resolution effectiveness and closure rate of items which have been expressed and recorded in various HR connects.
It is advisable to begin every subsequent connect session with a review of the previous connect session items. By sharing item-wise update on the findings and the corresponding actions taken, the message clearly goes to the team that their inputs and ideas were given duly incorporated and necessary actions were taken.
You may be an efficient HR but you also need to prove yourself to be an effective HR who believes in action for making a difference with a positive impact!!