Which HR policies are becoming irrelevant?

With the changing times and varying needs of the workforce, HR policies need to be revisited lest they lose their relevance

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Times have changed and so have the expectations of the workforce. The needs and requirements of the new generation are way different from that of their parents. That is why, many policies have either become redundant or too rigid, and therefore, need to be changed. They have to be revisited, rephrased and amended to make them relevant in today’s context.

Human resource leaders share with HRKatha, some of the HR policies that have undergone change in the last few years or have been rendered irrelevant.

Work from anywhere flexibility: As a concept, work-from-home, is not new to Indian employers. Earlier, this was treated as an employee perk in companies, but now, it has become part of the employer value proposition. Employers are actually trying to attract talent by offering them flexibility. “Flexibility to work in a hybrid model never existed earlier, but now, companies have embraced it and have designed HR policies around it,” states Udbhav Ganjoo, head – HR, global operation, India, emerging Asia & access markets, Viatris.

“In our days, salary was fixed and we never discussed it on the table, but now there is more transparency and flexibility”

Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, advanced material business, Aditya Birla Group

Office timings: There was a time when one of the key roles of the HR was to ensure discipline. “Earlier, the HR did more of policing work — tracking the arrival and exit times of employees, and cutting their salaries for reporting late. That has changed now,” asserts Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, advanced material business, Aditya Birla Group. In fact, Mishra recalls that companies used to cut half a day’s salary even if an employee reported 10 minutes late for work. However, given the heavy traffic on the road these days and other uncertainties, which have become part of urban life, companies have had to do away with such policies and allow more flexibility to their employees.

Compensation structure: Mishra describes how earlier the compensation structure was formulated based on the company’s HR policies regarding the same. There were many provisions such as the leave travel allowance (LTA) that allowed employers to allocate money to an employee. Now, however, the whole compensation structure has taken a new shape in the form of ‘cost to the company’ or CTC.

Today, the compensation package has a flexible structure in keeping with the differing needs of the employees. The younger generation prefers to spend money on fulfilling their dreams, and therefore, provisions such as insurance or savings for the future do not interest them as much. For the middle-aged employee, medical insurance and savings for the future are more attractive, as they provide security. That is why, compensation packages are more flexible today.

“In our days, salary was fixed and we never discussed it on the table, but now there is more transparency and flexibility,” explains Mishra.

“Changes will keep happening frequently in HR policy-making”

Udbhav Ganjoo, head – HR, global operation, India, emerging Asia & access markets, Viatris

Salary increment: Salary increments and bonuses have also become flexible these days. For instance, Niva Bupa, an insurance company, had actually introduced an ‘anytime appraisal policy’ for its front-line sales professionals last year. Companies have begun the practice of quarterly reviews now, which makes increments quite flexible unlike in the past when increments were time bound and rigid.

Diversity and inclusion: With the growing interest of companies in furthering their DE&I agenda, many policies have undergone relevant changes, especially the medical and welfare benefits. These have now been extended to same-sex partners and not just spouses.

‘Such changes will keep happening frequently in HR policy-making. In our time, POSH was never a part of the employee-safety policy, but now it is,” points out Ganjoo.

The reason for such changes is very simple. The expectations and the awareness level of employees have gone up. “We are living in a global village now. People are much more aware of their needs in life,” says Ganjoo.

In fact, the influx of MNCs and startups in India has also been a trigger for change. “Competition has increased. Startups have come up with flexible policies and other big firms are being forced to adopt them to attract talent,” Ganjoo explains.

“Many of the big firms such as ours or the Tatas and the Mahindras, have changed their HR policies in keeping with the times. However, there are some small and mid-size firms that continue to have rigid policies in place,” says Mishra. In fact, a global media firm still follows a strict office timing policy, even today. There are also some organisations that continue with the sandwich leave policy.

All of them will have to change. After all, the talent market is getting tougher by the day and it is becoming more difficult to attract quality talent now than ever before.

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