The Triple Challenge of HR
Human Resource function today needs to actively engage with business to understand pain points and key business parameters
On-time hiring and capability, skill enhancement and perception of the function itself are the 3 biggest challenges with the HR function.
While hiring as an activity has gone through a re-packaging over the last several years, the challenges of getting the right candidates on board still remain! I feel, most of the organizations have harnessed all available methods of attracting talent – from job portals to consultants to social media to referrals. What this tells me is that there is an immense need to ‘market’ opportunities and create buzz to attract talent. Secondly, good talent will not come in discounted – organizations need to understand that their biggest spend is going to be on good talent!
To me, a significant portion of hiring is very factory based in its overall execution. Despite this, there is no market based data aggregation on hiring turnaround timelines, hiring budget trends, interview to offer ratios and offer to joining rejects. In industries which are headcount driven, such parameters are paramount! Hiring functions should become more data driven than before so as present the real picture to business. On more occasions than not, discussions between line and hiring become analog in nature (job done v/s not done). However, it becomes critical for the hiring function to showcase effort based data (my picture), for the business to understand challenges around hiring. At the same time, it is equally important for the hiring engine to feel the pain of business (your picture) for every position that busts the committed timeline of hiring. When discussions hover around ‘my picture v/s your picture’ with data & analytics, there is a natural lean to look at the ‘3rd picture’ which is a collaborative effort and a win-win for both the customer and the enabler! Typically, a function such as Hiring will always have pressure in headcount intensive industries with high churn. The need of the hour is for the hiring function to project itself not just as a provider of manpower but a data analytics team that influences business basis manpower efforts, consulting ability and market reality (Example – why it would make sense for company X to hire a candidate fitting in 80% in the desired role and pushing the balance 20% through skill enhancement programs over a few months).
Capability & skill enhancement is another challenge that I see. Today, it is imperative for organizations to assess capability along with skills for all critical roles in the organization and align low scorers with continuous skill and capability upgrades. Assessment centers were meant for leadership and critical roles until sometime back. Today, organizations have realized that capability assessments go much beyond (a) leadership roles and (b) executing plain assessment centers. The HR function today should partner with the business to arrive at essential skills required across roles and run a detailed exercise to gauge the same by actively relating with managers and supervisors. This can typically help HR map an organization with employees playing higher roles, lower roles and ideal roles. When a mapping like this is arrived at, several other recommendations and ‘friendly audits’ fall in place (Example – Employee X has been playing a higher role and not considered for a promotion during the annual appraisal cycle while employee Y has been playing a lower role and recommended to move up – Why?). Such an exercise also helps us to recommend surgical training interventions that would have far more effectiveness than broad based training programs. Another key takeaway of such an assessment is to understand whether managers are performing their roles effectively, which is that of managing! Certification based capability building interventions for first time managers or front line managers are possible outcomes basis assessments.
Lastly, the outcomes from the HR function are often perception driven. Perception based feedback on HR has often been sighted as the most common ‘issue’ that rocks the function with the business not ‘looking’ at realities. While this is partly true, I would equally put the onus on the HR function, of not being able to influence leaders for a course correction. HR needs to voluntarily project itself as an agile function that is people driven but equally strong on metrics, analytics and overall business acumen. The Human Resource function today needs to actively engage with business to understand pain points and key business parameters (Example – GC, GM and how the 2 are going to directly impact financials; wage cost increment – budgeted v/s real and how the delta between the two will become the talking point; client billings, business in pipeline and overall people cost – how are these adding up?).
Over the last decade, HR has transformed itself into a function with strong credibility and today, business leaders engage the function not just for people related discussions but for large business closures as well. The perception and overall positioning that this function has created may very well be changing for the better! And I can only envisage this positioning growing deeper and more collaborative with the business functions!
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