Why HR also needs an HR

After all, HR personnel are also employees, with needs and issues just like other members of the workforce

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Who manages the HR processes, administration, operations and people strategy of a company? The HR of course.

When we talk about all the challenges of a firm, from hiring the best talent to training and upskilling them, and keeping employees engaged as well as mentally and physically healthy, we all rely on the HR.

But while the HR takes care of the employees, who takes care of the HR? After all, HR personnel are also employees at the end of the day.

HRKatha decided to find out who is the HR for the HR in an organisation? Or do we even need one at all?

As per HR leaders, the need to have an HR for the HR has been felt and many companies in India even follow the concept.

“One of my bosses used to say, “You guys look after all the employees, but who looks after you?” It is just like a doctor also needs a doctor,” says Dharm Rakshit, head – HR, Hero Motocorp.

“Companies that are small, in terms of employee strength, may not require a dedicated team for managing HR for the HR, but they should have at least one person to handle that area”

Krish Shankar, group HR head, Infosys

While speaking to HRKartha, Rakshit shares that at Hero Motocorp and even Mondelez where he has worked before, the concept of having an HR for HR does exist.

Rakshit says that like every function has a human resource business partner or HRBP, the HR function also has an HRBP that looks after the HR activities — talent acquisition, talent management, training and development, compensation & benefits and so on — of the HR department itself.

“More often, it is the compensation and benefits head who is designated to handle or manage HR for HR, since this person has access to all employee data in the organisation, including the HR team itself,” mentions Rakshit.

The concept of having an HR for HR is not new in the private sector. “I have seen organisations practising this for more than 10 to 12 years now,” admits Rakshit.

In fact, the concept has been in practice even longer. Krish Shankar, group HR head, Infosys, shares that when he was working with Unilever around 1996-97, the company had a programme called ‘HR for HR.’ Under this programme, a dedicated team of professionals or HRBPs was created to formulate HR strategies for the HR department. This team looked after the talent management, acquisition, operations and people strategy for the HR department.

Shankar recalls how a programme was run for the HR department to upskill HR professionals in HR analytics, as part of the ‘HR for HR’ initiative.

Rakshit feels that the need for an HR for HR very much exists in the corporate world. He believes that in India it is quite essential since organisations do not review their HR processes quite frequently.

“The idea of having a dedicated team looking after the HR activities for the HR department seems quite viable and worth testing by companies”

Seema Singh, CHRO, India Post Payments Bank

Secondly, organisations tend to be biased with their own HR processes at times. Therefore, it makes sense to seek a third person’s opinion, preferably an expert capable of reviewing the internal processes as well.

“By having an HR for HR, one will have someone questioning the HR processes in the Company with a third-person’s view,” explains Rakshit.

After all, if the employees of the HR team have some issues with their manager(s), who will they approach for HR intervention?

Rakshit shares that many of the HRBPs for the HR function, organise learning and training programmes for the HR team as they also need to upskill themselves to be relevant.

Ever since the pandemic and lockdown, emotional issues have been noticed at every level of the hierarchy. Therefore, if the HR takes care of all the needs of a regular employees in the company, the HR department also needs someone to take care of these issues for them as well.

Private-sector companies have realised the need to have an HR in place for the HR personnel, but the public-sector undertakings or PSUs in the country still don’t see the need.

Seema Singh, CHRO, India Post Payments Bank, says that a PSU such as Punjab National Bank (PNB) which has lakhs of employees does not have any HR for HR. However, she does believe, “The concept seems quite viable and worth testing by companies,” asserts Singh.

Though Rakshit says that many organisations may not require a dedicated team for managing HR for HR, just one or two people would suffice, if the HR department is not that big. However, it all depends on the size of the company and the HR team.

“More often, it is the compensation and benefits head who is designated to handle or manage HR activities for HR”

Dharm Rakshit, head – HR, Hero Motocorp

Take for instance, the case of Infosys. The IT major employs about 2.70 lakh people. Understandably, its HR department is rather huge. “We have a dedicated team that handles the HR actives for the HR. This team mainly comprises the HRBPs and a team lead,” reveals Shankar.

“Companies that are small, in terms of employee strength, may not require a dedicated team for managing HR for the HR, but they should have at least one person to handle that area,” suggests Shankar.

The skills to manage HR for HR are no different, feel HR leaders. They are, by and large, the same as in any HR professional. However, managing people problems for one’s own HR department can be tough and challenging. “Fearless people possessing the ability to stand by their decisions and who are also high on empathy are ideal for such roles,” concludes Rakshit.

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