“We need to be proactive on labour issues,” P Dwarakanath

HR should not just be limited to the role of ‘hatch, match and dispatch’ but become an active partner in business decisions and serve the interests of all its stakeholders, feels P Dwarakanath, HR leader & non-executive chairman, GSK

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2020: What to learn – what to erase

The year 2020 has busted many myths, assumptions and traditional beliefs, related to the workplace. Digital transformation coupled with the agility of leaders has helped make this possible. The focus has shifted from jobs to skills, from an analog mindset to a digital one, and from capability and outcomes to empowerment and flexibility.

However, what I would like to erase is the way some of the organisations have treated their employees during the lockdown by enforcing furloughs and layoffs. Migrant and gig workers were left high and dry, with little compassion from their employers. This was truly a litmus test for many organisations to test the quality of their leadership and their culture.

HR has shown great agility and business acumen

Frankly, it is the most exciting time to be in HR. In the last one year, HR has played a pivotal role in organisational transformation and change, by demonstrating key competencies – the five A’s — authenticity, agility, adaptability, accountability and affinity. The focus of HR has shifted from ‘inside-out’ to ‘outside-in’. HR leaders in successful organisations have delivered business results by exhibiting more empathy and resilience, and by influencing skills to stay connected with the workforce during the crisis.

Labour unrest: Will it shift the focus back to IR ?

The recent FES study on global labour unrest on platforms, reports that between January 1, 2017 and May, 2020, 527 incidents of labour unrest have taken place globally, across 36 different countries. Most of these protests took place in Europe, Asia and South Africa. The primary reasons for these protests were poor pay, lack of healthcare provisions, insufficient protective gear, and risk factors at the job.

In most scenarios, labour and people issues are dealt with in a reactive manner, rather than managing them proactively. Unfortunately, in the board meetings, reviewing people experience periodically is never considered an agenda and it’s more of a ticking-the-box compliance. Usually, the board and senior

HR has played a pivotal role in organisational transformation and change, by demonstrating
key competencies – the five As — authenticity, agility, adaptability, accountability, and affinity

management only wake up when the workforce has already been driven to react in an untoward manner. Hence, whenever any such labour unrest happens, the focus of HR and top management returns to IR, employee relations and people Issues.

In order to avoid this firefighting much before such unrest crops up, the grievance of the employees, workers and partners should be timely sensed, listened to empathetically and addressed from time to time, with appropriate proactive measures being taken to foster healthy employee relations. Labour law compliance must be ensured, both in letter and spirit, and the right tone should be set at the top-management level. Further, carefully-drafted laws that recognise the reality of platform work, and guarantee to platform workers both procedural rights and substantive rights, should be introduced and implemented.

C-suite doesn’t want reports, it wants results

It needs to be noted that both end-to-end design and delivery of an ‘agile people strategy’ is equally important. As someone has rightly said, “If one doesn’t keep scoring, one is just practising”.

Human resources should not just report the data obtained from various sources to the C-suite, but also carefully analyse and monitor it to identify predictive analytics/forecasts about the talent and business. For instance, HR should analyse the internal employee data and market data to create foresights related to talent forecasting, skills for the future, turnover modelling, risk of flight of talent and so on.

By doing so, HR will not just be limited to the role of ‘hatch, match and dispatch’ but become an active partner in business decisions and serve the interests of all its stakeholders.

1 COMMENT

  1. I have written about Strategic Contribution as one of five HR Competencies identified by Michigan University Study done by Dave Ulrich and Wayen Brockbank. Strategic HR has to be aligned with Business Results, translate Strategic HR into actionable HR Strategies for People to achieve the results. We can get Plant, Meterials, Machinery, Processes, Hardware, Soft Ware etc, but People make the difference, ie in achieving results.
    E-HR has taken a Quantum Leap in Covid Pandemic time. Thorough knowledge of HR Theories and Fundas, Credibility ( You deliver,what you promise), are the Critical Competencies for HR.

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