Recently, one of my acquaintances had a horrific on-boarding experience – She was relocating from Pune to Mumbai to join an organization with September 4th as the agreed joining date. She was contacted on 30th August by the recruiter coaxing her to join ‘today or tomorrow‘. The reason stated was that the recruiter needed her to join in August (as somebody who has worked in #recruitment, I am aware of the pressure of monthly offer targets being met, but that hardly justifies the recruiter’s behavior). The recruiter went on to say, that if she does not join in a day the organization might have to re-think the offer (while the offer letter was duly signed by both the parties a fortnight ago). The proverbial nail in the coffin of her on- boarding experience was that this was happening while Mumbai was struggling to stay afloat in the aftermath of Cyclone Phyan. There was no regard given to the fact that the organization is not only being illogical and trying to do something illegal, but also being unethical by forcing someone to compromise on their safety just so a recruiter can meet their monthly target. As a member of the HR fraternity, I found it difficult to justify what the recruiter was doing to my friend, but I also sympathized with the recruiter, having gone through the same humongous pressure of all good work done in a quarter going down the drain, just because one missed one’s target by 1 offer.
Another scenario is that of HR officers in IT companies and other people-intensive industries, struggling to keep up with the mandate of completing X employee interactions a day, due to which the collective quality of those interactions goes down.
On many-an-occasion, I might have been guilty of not having given my undivided attention to an employee who wanted to meet HR to ask for help with a certain issue at the organization , because my mind was preoccupied and burdened with hundreds of other activities all of which ‘had to happen that very day‘. To be able to lend a sympathetic and attentive ear to each new employee’s problems, when one eye is on the clock, is much too optimistic an expectation.
In India, are we pushing it with the span of control assigned to each HR professional in most organizations, and causing the quality of work to decay? When it comes to volume of work, we cannot really expect to win a battle against robots, which are often touted as crowd-favorites in the quest to replace HR. But if the quest is the quality of the experience, the human touch will always win.
Should assessment of Human Resources be as quantitative as other fields? By doing so, are we pushing HR towards being a low-value, paper pushing function which only cares about meeting the required check-points in a day’s work? Should the key evaluation criterion not be the experience of having interacted with HR, which can drive the function to excel in that domain?
With due respect to the fact that all activities that HR as a function handles on a daily basis cannot be value and experience driven, we definitely do need to ensure that the key pre-requisite is not getting lost in a sea of numbers.
A candidate not happy with her pre-onboarding experience will not only cost the organization a dropped offer and all redundancy associated with it, but she will also bad-mouth the company on multiple fora and to numerous potential candidates, which is a cost difficult to measure, and even more difficult to ignore. Without expecting HR to be undervalued super-humans that must take on thousands of tasks to be ‘relevant’ in the eyes of the business, perhaps we need to view whether we have the right expectations from the function and whether we have empowered them enough with the right goals and enough time to see them through to fruition.