So these are the days of churn. Over the past one year, I have noticed one thing about a majority of professionals that I have networked with: very few seem to be happy. Many are worried about what tomorrow will bring. Some are concerned about whether they will still have a job. Some worry about their EMIs. Some are under tremendous pressure and some secretly tell me about bosses that treat them very badly.
Almost ninety percent of the people that I have networked with on various forums have told me that would seek a change. At the same time, I also see many managements unhappy with their employees. One hears almost everyday about lay offs. One sees managers having second thoughts about successors they may have themselves chosen and employees facing disenchantment within months in a new role. Also, just when the GDP numbers take an upswing something like a demonetisation drive occurs, which make companies say that their quarters are severely affected. So what exactly is going on?
To me, the answer is very simple. There are just too many goods and services available in this networked world to allow a serious growth in the economy. I mean, just look at the number of apps hawking anything from cabs to groceries to haircuts to drivers etc. It seems just about everyone has something to sell to you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With so much of choice available, where is the growth going to come from? I have friends in the restaurant business who tell me that if a new restaurant lives a life for a year and a half, that's considered to be a success!
Several of my HR friends tell me that employee costs are going up and they are crossing the magic 7% of the revenue costs. This in itself is forcing them to do cost cuttting by reducing recruitment and not replacing attrition. Also, HR is being questioned more and more by management on their value add. On top of that, you hear some management gurus write the obitiuary of HR in the next 3 to 5 years. And now you have AI, that's supposed to kill off HR once and for all. So what is the truth after all? Is the HR profession slowly dying away in this new and scary world?
After 25 years in the business, I am now of a totally different opinion. I personally feel that this is the best time for HR to not only survive but to excel in weaving its magic touch in organisations. For HR is on the cusp of a re birth !
HR Folks today need to do a deep study on human behavior and understand how it operates at the work place. The reality is that work places are not designed to match the flow of human behavior. Work places are based upon the principles of Management Science. And management science is based upon the principles of rationality.
Now get this: human beings are not rational by nature!
Do what you want and try as you may, but you are seldom going to get rationality from humans. Our brains were not designed that way. Humans are obsessed with survival and that is why today, even though the weakest amongst all species, we stand at the top of the food chain (but more about anthropology later). This in itself, causes us to behave in an irrational manner.
Managements are perplexed because they bring in talent, pay them and hey presto, business should go up, right? But then it doesn't. So they bring in the top consulting companies in the world who change everything in the systems except one thing; how humans are behaving in the organisation.
Why? Because they basically have no clue. So get this. Every problem in an organisation is essentially a human one. Yet most organisations believe that they should solve every other problem except the behavioural one. So what do you get? Some structural changes are made, more systems are automated, lots of reveiws are done but does that really impact sales? Your guess is as good as mine.
This is where evolved HR comes in. For after building a strong knowledge on human behavior, HR can finally influence both employees and management to align on what behaviours to adopt which will bring in growth. And also to align management that the days of high growth may be officially over. HR needs to also align both management and employees to understand that this is a truly networked world. There are no secrets anymore. Any kind of negative behavior towards employees can be broadcast to the rest of the world in a matter of seconds. Managements need to 'get' that.
Today, the days of leadership principles are getting obsolete. Leadership was based more on the principles of how much information or knowledge a leader had. People would be in awe of that. Today all that knowledge is on the net with just a tap away. Therefore, what do you bring in when all that you have learnt is not working anymore? Well, it's essentially empathy. HR's primary role nowadays would be to build empathy amongst bosses, subordinates and peers. For an organisation to thrive, an empathetic team is a tool that can be a terrific one. And the only people who can build that is HR.
I would say that automate all HR Processes so that your HR folks are free to interact and build empathy amongst employees. Give HR folks the time. If your HR people are interacting with a laptop all day, then when do they have time to build what is most required today?
It won't be long in my opinion, that organisations shall be measured by their 'empathy quotient'. Why is that? It is because humans come to work to feel valued. And it's only empathy that makes humans value each other. Building that and keeping it that way is that 'differential' value that HR can bring in. It's not an easy process and it takes time, commitment and the integrity of your word. But when it is done, that will be the day when HR shall truly take its re-birth!
I for one, truly believe that this re-birth is just around the corner.