In the last few months, I have read a lot of articles on Linkedin which raise a plea to respect HR. I tried to understand what makes HR professionals feel undervalued. There are many reasons for this. But let's focus on the key reasons:
- Greater focus on the task dimension by business and lesser appreciation of softer aspects of relationship dimension;
- Challenges in quantifying the impact of the work done by HR
Remember the story of Karna from Mahabharata who always felt that life has been unfair to him because he did not get enough opportunities to showcase his archery prowess. HR should not fall into the same trap.
To begin with, we should stop expecting anyone to respect us. Respect is never given. It is earned.
Secondly, we need to understand that business is at best our partner and at worst our customer. So stakeholder management is important. Understanding the expectations of business and their difference in perspective is just the beginning.
We need to coach our leaders and managers on the importance of people management and then build programs and align processes to ensure effective people management.
Thirdly just creating more touchpoints with your people is not enough. HR is much more than conversations and parties. I am not devaluing the two interventions but if we limit ourselves to these we create a wrong perception in the minds of our employees that we are very transactional. Follow up on the discussions we have had, sharing the impact or at least the progress with employees is equally important. As an annual exercise, one could go ahead and show the number of concerns which were addressed or the number of grievances which were resolved and the impact it has created. It does not end there. Providing career paths, encouraging and sponsoring learning would provide a strong value proposition and begin to change the impression which employees have about HR. Periodic benchmarking would also help in understanding where we are vis-à-vis the market and provide good data points for measuring the impact.
Fourthly knowing how the business is performing, what client feedback is and therefore what the talent imperatives are the business of HR. Actioning on talent imperative is not just the role of HR but all the relevant stakeholders including business. While at a broad level it might seem difficult to add substantial metrics to HR agenda, at this level one can arrive at some good indicators of measuring the efficiency and effectiveness.
HR is a very powerful function. Gone are the days when it used to report to a CFO. It is high time we gear ourselves for the new expectations and start showing the value creation through our work.