Helping each department of the organisation function better: The new mandate for HR

HR and other departments should work in cohesion, as business partners, to achieve the company’s strategic objectives.

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More than ever before, talent today is increasingly becoming one of the biggest sources of competitive differentiation for companies, as we transition to the ‘new skills economy’. In this hyperdynamic environment, workplace capabilities keep getting redefined, making it imperative for employees across departments to constantly reskill and upskill themselves.

And, with digital technologies disrupting each function differently, talent, workforce and learning management need to be looked at in a boutique, function-specific manner. Why? Simply because, these requirements are unique for each function, and each department works with specific business targets in mind.

Given this context, human resources (HR) has a new mandate—help each function become more productive, agile and responsive by empowering them with relevant tools and skillsets. Chief human resources officers (CHROs) should now reposition themselves as ‘change agents’ who can enable various departments to manage the employee lifecycle effectively, leading to enhanced business outcomes.

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For instance, marketing often works on specific, time-bound campaigns, pooling in various individuals from within the organisation to build dedicated teams for the duration of that exercise only. Here, HR can assist in project-centric team configuration by helping marketing assess its staffing needs for the given campaign, and accordingly source the right talent. If the in-house talent pool is well equipped to execute the campaign brief, then HR’s job is to identify resources dispersed throughout the organisation, and assign them to that campaign. In case the company lacks the requisite talent, say UX designers or PHP developers for mobile apps, then HR should work with marketing to recruit specialist freelancers on demand. In both scenarios, HR empowers marketing with the right resources, in time, to facilitate a high-quality, agile and responsive campaign, resulting in the desired RoI.

Let’s take up another example, of salespeople working in the field. For such employees, who often travel for work, and operate in an extremely demanding, target-oriented environment, taking out time to learn new skills can become a challenge. HR can address this pain point by provisioning self-paced ‘microlearning’ modules, which will deliver bite-sized learning for mobile sales staff. By building microlearning around a mobile-friendly user interface (UX), and structuring the content around ‘snackable’ sections, HR can make sales more productive and responsive to emerging business needs.

The third example, that is, people analytics, highlights the significant potential for HR to empower other departments. Line managers in the operations function play a vital role in keeping the workforce morale high, to minimise employee attrition. However, most often, these supervisors work with their gut instinct. They lack data-driven insights required to make informed decisions in relation to talent management. HR can help solve this problem by harnessing people analytics solutions to deliver actionable insights into employee engagement, which the line managers can then use to handle their staff better.

As a case in point, line managers can leverage analytics to enhance their talent management practices, by clearly outlining the key result areas (KRAs) and requisite competencies for each role, and measuring workers’ performance. Doing so will not only substantially reduce manual workflows, but also avert the probability of unconscious biases creeping into decision making.

Conclusion

Organisations today must foster a work culture where HR and other departments work in cohesion, as business partners, to achieve the company’s strategic objectives. Persisting with the traditional model of each department working in silos, with HR restricting itself to a corporate-level mandate, will not be effective anymore in the 21st century.

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