Do you remember Titanic?
When the movie was released, hundreds of people had shed tears on the incomplete and painful love saga of jack and rose. At the same time, many grappled with the exact role of the musical band. The same band played till the end, the same band that did not abandon the ship, and the same crew that took the task of motivating people and giving people hope, at least whatever they could. For many years the role of the HR function and HR managers was the same. In their head, they were keeping the ship together by offering people motivation, engagement, and sometimes hope. The hope is that things will be better and bigger in the next year. The unfortunate part was that the clarity was only in their head. The world still saw the function as a musical band, sometimes confused, trying to do something, not clear, having no say, and waiting for the ship to go down.
Let’s bring our attention to the current world. Things have changed. HR Function is not the musical band. HR function and HR Managers are the most critical people to any ship, situation, or love saga. Rather they are the ones saving worlds and enabling lovers to have a happy end.
If marvel comics had a say, they would tell you that HR Function is the Avengers. And HR Managers the Iron Man. The only superhero who could have managed to defeat Thanos. The only superhero who should be able to handle the gauntlet.
HR function and HR Managers are at that very brink. The crystal ball has shown us the future, and it is in the hands of HR Function.
Here are a few reasons for the indispensability of the HR function and the role they can play:
- Everything at this point is about people. Are you struggling with tech disruption? It will boil down to people. Because you would need people to upskill themselves, understand the new world order and respond. Tech disruption without people is Captain America without the shield. Somewhere and at someplace, someone is currently planning to disrupt our lives with changing and challenging technology. The pace at which tech is being challenged does not match how our people are upskilling. A gap makes it tough for organizations to adopt, manage change, and ultimately deliver results. HR function and Managers have a clear role in enabling people to learn to unlearn and relearn quickly. The question of skill development has never been so important. We need an answer, and we need it now. On the other hand, the predicament of finding the right talent at the right time is a mystery in itself. The unsurmountable pressures and the great Indian resignation puts the talent acquisition function under perpetual stress to meet manpower needs. The HR function will have to revamp and reimagine hiring. It’s pretty much headed in the Dominos Pizza and the Zepto direction. It means delivering and meeting recruitment needs in a stipulated period, finding the right match, and cultural fit, and ensuring retention. Yes, they can’t provide a resource in 30 minutes, but that’s how fast one will have to think. The turnaround time is shrinking, so it’s on HR to match the clock.
- The no 1 predicament at this point in time for leaders is not technology because it can be purchased, taken over, or acquired; the no 1 concern is also not supplying chains, raising funds, etc. the no 1 concern at this point of time is the exhaustion of their people. There has never been a time in history when mental health became a priority in board meetings. The C Suite is taking its vulnerability and that of their people seriously. The first number they are dialling is of their HR head. The function is now expected to advise the business and navigate them through the mayhem of well-being. It is a plan on the top, and it looks like it will stay right there for a few years.
- We all know about the great Indian resignation. People have been hopping jobs, poaching at an all-time high, and reprioritization of what people need from the jobs has become a perplexing challenge. Amidst all the noise, they need to develop strong cultures and offering people a seamlessly integrated experience has emerged as the differentiating factor. So, when businesses ask, “how do we retain people and thereby preserve business continuity? The answer might not be entirely in bonuses, promotions, or more money; the answer might come from seeming intangibles like culture and people’s experiences. How your people deliver for the customers depends on how the organizations treat their people. No one will go to the supply chain, procurement, IT or admin, or finance guy for answers. They all look at HR to crack the culture code. The culture code and the people experience strategy are the secret sauce. It will be imperative and indispensable to offer psychologically safe workplaces. Places where all kinds of diversity are welcome and, most importantly, feel included. Diversity and Inclusion is a key components of ESG, and a large part of it falls in the realm of culture. A workplace only needs to be a safe, comfortable, productive place for women employees but also people from all ethnicities, religions, sex, and abilities. The HR function will have to take the torch and light the way.
- And the last one is the big and the final blow. The existential question of meaning, the purpose of my life, and the larger significance of one’s presence. The millennials have turned out to be a very different breed. Their needs, demands, and expectations are different from the past generations. They need to have a purpose of work and a way to be clear; they want to see meaning and impact people, societies, and communities. They want flexibility, they want appreciation like never before, and they want a fulfilling life. You see, these were never the predicaments for a CEO. They are now. HR is in the driving seat when it comes to helping leaders drive meaning and purpose from work. The wave of the GIG economy is a challenge and disrupting the conventional definition of employee and employer space. HR is the one responsible for writing and rewriting the rule book.
You can pick any threat and stand at any point of the truth; everything does and will boil down to people. If it’s for people, it will come to Human resources function. It’s time for the world to make space for HR as the strategic partner, as advisor to crises never seen before.
Because if there is any chance of creating value for people, societies, and stakeholders, Captain America will have to stand apart from the crown, grab that flying hammer and say, “Avengers, assemble!
It’s time to assemble, and that’s what HR will do.
In a post “me too” movement world, given the sensitivity & high scrutiny any establishment faces in protecting its women, HR’s role in preventing harassment is key. No matter how big an Org., if they can’t protect their women in today’s world, they lose respect & market standing.
Likewise, for specific culture-driving activities for building a safe, Non-Racial, LGBTQ+ positive atmosphere – Key component for companies looking to have a truly global presence. Racial/Anti-pride sentiments continue to break the biggest brands.
Upscaling Manpower. Given the high growth trajectory, most companies in any industry are on, the requirement for skilled manpower is growing exponentially. The HR role is pivotal to any Business expansion/growth/scale-up plan by finding and hiring the right individuals to make the plan successful.
The world of HR is ever evolving. With the surge in jobs in the post-pandemic era, the role of human resources is even more important. Emeritus offers a range of courses in human resources management, that will help you understand the latest in this field. Explore our courses or connect with us to know more.
~ Ankit Jhamb | HR Leader