“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t have to.”

These words by Sir Richard Branson, the famous entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Airlines, sum up the entire struggle (along with the solution) for the core problem faced by a Human Resource Manager. It also paves the way for the 2 basic functions that every HRM has to perform – that of training the workforce, and to keep the workforce happy in their current employment.  

However, this has been a traditional approach. The role of HR in today’s times, especially due to fast-paced development in digitalisation, AI, business strategies among other things, has moved much beyond these traditional confines. Innovation has become a pre-requisite in today’s time to give organisations a competitive edge. HRM is contributing extensively towards the strategic growth of any organisation by implementing innovative ideas in the fields of Recruitment, Performance management, employee experience etc. Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte was recently recorded saying:

“Ultimately, the digital world of work has changed the rules of business.  Organizations should shift their entire mindset and behaviours to ensure they can lead, organize, motivate, manage and engage the 21st-century workforce, or risk being left behind.”

Empirical evidence for this can be seen in the latest report of the 2019 survey by KPMG. Out of the 1200 global HR executives spread across 64 different countries, a massive 39% are focussed on redefining obsolete models and implement technologies such as analytics, digital labour and AI. On the flip side, the HR managers who still follow the traditional approach face a risk of extinction and are struggling to adapt to the fast-changing business climate, which is costing their organisations dearly.

In a study carried out by Deloitte, it was recorded that only 35% of the respondents did consider that their organisation is adapting to the changing business environment in an excellent way. They also recognise that the flexibility to adapt to this change is pivotal for their sustenance. 

Further, the same study concluded that there was a distinct shift within HR to move from purely a cost base to a more strategic, business advisor role, with a focus on talent management, efficient service delivery and holistic design of the workplace. This brings us to a very important question: what are the expectations the employees have from HR in today’s time?  

Despite The Bureau of Labor Statistics (USA) defining HR managers as professionals who “plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organisation”, employees in the 21st century expect much more from them. Some of the most important expectations that employees have from HR, apart from their traditional role in recruitment and training, can be summarised in the following points:  

  1. Since they are the link between the top management and the employees, they should be more accessible and friendly. In fact, recent times have seen a lot of HR executives adopting an open-door policy which has worked well to maintain a good work environment. 
  2. HR should be able to concentrate on other aspects of the personal development of the employees and integrate the same with the vision and development of the organisation. The alignment of the individual goals with that of the organisational goals gives the employees a sense of importance, which has a direct bearing on the employee turnover and each employee’s job satisfaction. 
  3. In today’s fast-paced business world, stress and burnouts are not unheard of. It is the role of HR to help the employees strike a healthy work-life balance. They ought to devise effective internal wellness programmes and other policies, keeping in view the overall growth of the organisation, to ensure a sound health of the employees. 
  4. In this phase of rapid tech advancements and digitalisation, the HR is expected to make sure that the employees do not lag behind in their know-how and skills, per the market standards. This helps in not only individual growth but also boosts the goodwill of the organisation and keeps the workforce happy. 
  5. They have to continually perform the balancing act between the employees, employers, owners and customers. They have to ensure that no instances of workplace chaos are looming on their head, and avoid any sort of lawsuits or litigations against not only the organisation but individual employees as well. 

In conclusion, the HR department is an indispensable part of any organisation, more so in today’s time. It has come a long way from its traditional role of a recruiter and personal trainer and now occupies a much more strategic position in any organisation. They have evolved their focus to be very employee-centric and hence are one of the biggest contributors for paving the way for a brighter future of not just the organisation but equally of all employees working in it.

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