Today, the role of an SHRBP is no longer just a people’s role but a business role, where they drive business recovery, continuity and growth through the right people decisions, management and experience.

In the last few months, a lot has changed for everyone. The way we have known life has changed. The extended stay at home or work from home is a new concept to everyone, and we are all having to adapt to it – at an individual level, organisational level, societal level. With many organisations deciding to transition to permanent work from home or hybrid work model even post lockdown, the impact of this period is going to be more long lasting than we expected. As consumers, we, as people, have also undergone a change in the way we are accessing and consuming products and services, as well as the types of products and services we are opting for. And some of these changes too will continue to stick even post the pandemic abates.

When the lockdown was announced, while it was anticipated, it needed immediate action on part of the organisations to ensure operational continuity. The HR function, in partnership with other functions like logistics, admin and IT, had to ensure that employees had the infrastructure to be able to operate from home. Some of the people policies had to be relooked at to be able to accommodate this change in work.

What was thought to be an interim measure soon turned out to be a long-term reality, and a two-week lockdown and work from home turned into months, and brought with it its own challenges. Work from home burnout, blurring of personal and professional spaces, long working hours and so on, the impact on organisational budgets leading to measures like layoffs, furloughs, freezing of incentives and increments etc. HR was walking a tight rope balancing between business partnering and employee experience and wellbeing.

This is where the role of Strategic HR Business Partnering has evolved and truly come to the fore as a key driver to business recovery, where SHRBPs can partner with business with solutions that solve for today without compromising business for tomorrow. Today, the role of an SHRBP is no longer just a people’s role but a business role, where they drive business recovery, continuity and growth through the right people decisions, management and experience. End of the day, businesses are not built on just products and services, machines and technology, but by the people who sell and promote those products and services, and use those machines and technology.

1. Business Acumen: HR needs to work closely with Business and get a strong grip on the overall industry view in which they operate and allied industries. How is the industry recovering? What are the trends in the industry? What are the innovations around them? How are the customers and consumers interacting with the industry? How are their behaviours changing? Additionally, HR needs to understand the organisational Profit & Loss. Yes, there might be a strain on revenues coming in, but what are the areas where the company might be saving on costs. For example, the travel costs, or the infrastructure cost. Can those costs be diverted towards good expenses? What are good costs that can be investment for the future? Having a sound Business understanding, and having these conversations can prepare the SHRBP to contribute to business through people.

2. Be an Internal Consultant to Business: Understanding key business imperatives and providing solutions through people – structurally and systemically – the kind of talent that is needed – now and in future, do we have the talent within the organisation, can some people be upskilled or reskilled or reassigned, can we leverage gig workers through innovative work arrangements and contracts. Enabling every function to be productive structurally and systemically both in the short and long term is the key. Solutions can range from restructuring, reskilling, getting gig-workers for specialized tasks, introducing enabling policies, helping build emotional resilience and psychological safety in teams, creating communication platforms and so on.

3. Be a Custodian of the Culture and Organisational Brand: Several organisations during the pandemic have taken a hit on their organisational brand due to the layoffs and the way the layoffs were done. May be the layoffs were not avoidable and had to be done. At the same time, there are also organisations that have used this period to build their organisational brand by extending support not only to their employees through enhanced medical policies, mandatory leaves, zero hours every day, but also extended support to their vendors and partners. Here Strategic HR BPs have a strong role to play. Every touchpoint from selection to exit is an opportunity to create a brand ambassador. If dealt with empathy and sensitivity, even bad news can be delivered and received well. This pandemic is a great opportunity to build managerial capability across the organisation on how to create brand ambassadors in the team.

4. Diversity & Inclusion: Lastly, the consumers and customers are evolving with the times and if organisations need to meet their evolving needs, they need to innovate not only in their products and services, but in their processes and their route to market and customer and client interaction. Having a diverse representation in the workforce is the need of the hour and Strategic HR BPs can identify the needs across all functions and build a diverse workforce that will make the organisation agile and relevant to the current times.

While everyone has jumped to the conclusion that it is automation and technology that will save the day, it will actually be the collaboration between Strategic HR Business Partners and Business, intense thinking, planning, strategizing and flawless integrated execution that will truly win the war!

The author, Sonica Aron, is Founder and Managing Partner at Marching Sheep.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHRWorld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHRWorld will not be responsible for any damage caused to any person or organisation directly or indirectly.