Every function has seen significant evolution in the way of working, their contribution to business over the years and even more so during the pandemic. The same is true for the HR function. Often seen as a cost function, a function for filling vacancies and managing documents, today, the role HR plays is so much broader and deeper.

Irrespective of the industry or life stage of an organization, the role of HR remains all pervasive. As a custodian of the culture of the organization, how the workforce experiences an organization and therefore contributes to its success, becomes a large part of HR accountability, thereby making the function a critical business function. The role is no more about managing the employee lifecycle… As a result of the evolving mindset of the workforce, the role of the HR function has altered dramatically.

Employee Expectations in the Changing Era

It cannot be disputed any more that employees today are evaluating organizations and are not flinching from taking tough decisions if they are not satisfied with the culture, policies, manager, learning and growth opportunities or the purpose of the organization. These are very different times from five years back. The pandemic gave time to the workforce to reflect, and reflect they did, on what they really want from their workplaces.

Inclusive policies and benefits

Today’s workforce is diverse- multigenerational workforce, different life stages, wanting to work from home, or in hybrid settings, or wanting to come to office as per their choice, want a say in their learning and development and career paths, want to be seen, heard, and valued for their contributions. Organizations that are willing to keep employees at the center, listen to the asks of their diverse workforce and revamp their policies will see talent getting attracted and retained.

Opportunities for learning and growth

Today’s workforce isn’t interested in specific training calendars and mandatory attendance. They desire meaningful exposure and learning experiences that will help them advance along the path they want their careers to take. Organizations must align their career talks, plans, and learning and development frameworks.

Mental health and well-being

This can no longer be a token effort with no actual tangible on-the-ground action. End of the day, if working long hours with a toxic manager, or battling politics at work, or not able to take time off, or having to work on weekends because top management wants a sales review on Monday leads to panic attacks and burn out, then having the best EAP, the best yoga sessions, the best gym, the best Zumba classes are of no help. Creating a culture of Empathy, resilience and psychological safety in letter and spirit, where there is balance between employee wellbeing and accountability for results is needed.

Transformation by HR professionals

With the changing workforce perspective, HR professionals are redefining the function while playing a vital strategic role. They must keep the employee at the organization’s center and act as change agents, leading the shift toward balancing employee needs and business results.

Survey the diversity

HR function is poised to reshape a company and its future success completely. To maintain employee morale, productivity, and retention, HR should begin by listening to employees. Initiatives like stay interviews, understanding the diverse needs of the workforce within, and the talent pool they wish to harness will point them in the right direction.

Revisit HR policies and practices

Policies of three years back are no longer relevant to the workforce of today. With remote working/ giga models/ hybrid, models very policy needs to be looked from a new lens. Add t that the lens of diversity in the workforce- multiple generations and their world view, different life stages, teams that are geographically spread, different personalities, different aspirations, and ways of working. One size does not fit all. Revisions may include significant or minor modifications, and introduction of new policies as well. During covid, many people became pet parents and with many organizations insisting on ‘come back to work’, are they supporting their employees with a pet policy, for instance? HR will need to align business, stop being inward looking and look at best practices not just in their industry, not just in India, but globally. Today the world is a global village, and one can learn from anywhere.

Influencing leaders and critical stakeholders

Every organization operates in a competitive atmosphere, and everyone vies for the best outcome for their goals. The importance of human resources in employer branding and mastering the art is critical to attracting expert individuals who will add value to the organization as a whole. Human resource function must drive leadership and essential stakeholders to accomplish this pursuit of a common goal and not functional excellence. Interaction and collaboration with each function of the organization is critical for developing an employer brand that complements the brand image while also reflecting and driving the corporate culture and goals.

Transparent communication

Regardless of the specialized talents necessary across verticals in the human resources department, HR is all about accurate, informative, professional, empathetic, and transparent communication. By successfully managing employees and business, a successful HR function keeps the organization working within the parameters of compliance and ensures business continuity sustainably. Even though the concept may appear simple, the responsibilities of human resources are extensive and have far-reaching repercussions. HR is involved in every part of the organization.

The value of HR professional is never-ending

Every organization has its own unique requirements, culture, policies, and processes. Human resources is the glue that binds the organizational components together with authenticity, rigor and transparency. HR’s responsibility is to create and implement policies and processes that ensure business intentions become realities through people. HR professionals serve as the link between what we want to be and who we are right now. No organization can achieve its objectives unless it understands its people and keeps them happy. Happy employees are productive and contributing employees. In a nutshell, the shift in the employment role of the HR professional has become a significant business growth factor.

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