HR Continuum


Dave Ullrich rightly stated that ‘the function of HR is to align HR and business strategy, reengineer organizational processes, listen and respond to employees and manage transformation and change’. Today, HR has evolved from a mere channel between the top management and the workforce to be a strategic partner in the decision-making process of any organization. Any 3 business decision has a direct involvement of its workforce; it is an investment of the management in its most important asset – people that catapult an organization into a brighter tomorrow. Hence, hiring the right kind of people, training them, aligning their goals with the organizational goals is of utmost importance, making the role of HR in every sector invaluable. With the social networking scenario, the movement of skill requirement from unskilled to skilled, the gravitation of businesses towards manufacturing, the rapidly developing start-up culture even amongst the established organization, and many other changes in the business environment has contributed to the growth and evolution of HRM.

This year’s continuum was based on the theme,

     “Building & Sustaining Global Organisations – Practices, Issues, Challenges for Human Resource Management”

The following luminaries participated in the one-day event, HR Continuum 2018, imparting the best of the industry knowledge to students at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay on 17th March 2018:

  •   Mr. Arjun Singh: Vice President HR, R&D, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals
  •   MR. Milind Apte: Senior Vice President, Human Resources at CEAT Tyres Ltd.
  •   Mr. Sitaram Kandi, Human Resource Director, Global Supply Chain, General Electric, India
  •   Mr. Aniruddha Khekale, Group Human Resource Director, Emerson Automation Solution
  •   Mr. Suman Paul, Senior Director and Head Rewards, HR Policies & Shared Services, Viacom18 Media
  •   Mr. Shashank Jagirdar, Senior Director HR, DHL Supply Chain India Pvt. Ltd.
  •   Mr. Ravi Khanna, Head of Human Resources, Axis Securities

Below were the sub-themes for the continuum:

How HR Sustains High Performing Employees and Reduce the Attrition Rate

Sustaining employees of good caliber through enhanced performance management has become a topic of interest and concern for most employers in recent times. While high performing employees contribute to the growth of an organization in a big way, losing them could be detrimental to the core functions of any business. Most companies invest in building the skills of their employees. However, only a few of them systematically invest in building people’s capacity to perform at their best.

Some creative ways to sustain high performing employees is by developing, implementing and reinforcing a pay-for-performance culture where their performance is acknowledged and automating performance management from start to finish.

Attrition of workforce occurs when the employees voluntarily discontinue their service and are not replaced, thus cutting down the entire workforce of the organization. The most common reasons why employees choose to leave an organization are a lack of career progression combined with attractive and new career opportunities elsewhere with better payoffs.

Some key steps that HR & Business management would need to take in order to deal with attrition rates include clearly defining the responsibilities and roles of an employee and offering opportunities for advancement.

Do Monetary Rewards at Workplace Always Enhance Creativity

Rewards, in any form- tangible or intangible, play an important role in influencing the problem-solving ability of individuals, and more specifically their creativity. Considering an organizational setting, monetary compensation is an important parameter that influences employee creativity.

A monetary reward is a form of extrinsic motivation as it is external to the task. Traditionally, extrinsic forms of motivation have been negatively correlated to creative outputs of individuals, and only intrinsic motivation, i.e. motivation derived from doing the task itself is considered beneficial to creativity. Monetary compensation is important to sustain oneself, but beyond sustainability, when the monetary reward is further extended specifically in return of creative thinking, creativity falls.

Another dimension to the impact of monetary reward on employees’ creativity is their individual disposition. Some people are highly intrinsically motivated, i.e. have a strong urge from inside that motivates them to accomplish their task. For them, monetary rewards make little or no effect on creativity. Others, who have a higher extrinsic motivation rely on external sources of motivation to complete a task, and it is for them that monetary rewards can have higher negative effects.

In addition to monetary rewards, the nature of the job also influences creativity. A job which is moderately challenging encourages employees to think of diverse possibilities before arriving at a final solution. On the contrary, a job which is highly complex or too easy, will not enhance the creativity of employees.

Thus, the influence of monetary reward on creativity is not straightforward and depends strongly upon the disposition of employees and the nature of the task.


Role of Organisational Culture in Enhancing Workplace Creativity

The creativity of employees helps in the growth of an organization. A tremendous amount of research work has been done to understand the parameters of organizational culture and dynamics that help in enhancing the creativity of employees. Such research has identified characteristics of a successful workplace culture where employees’ creativity is flourished.

An open culture which always welcomes new ideas of employees and doesn’t push them for doing work in a traditional manner has a positive correlation with the creative output of employees. Performance evaluation of employees is another major factor that influences creativity- a very lenient (which is quite rare) or very critical evaluation hampers creative thinking. So, the balance between the two extremes is highly important to motivate employees to think beyond conventional and considerate enough to take risk of exploring new ventures.

Time pressure is equally important to influence employees’ creativity. If a company provides very little time pressure then employees won’t put so much effort as they could or if there is an extremely high time pressure then employees would try to follow the traditional approach to get their work done and won’t try to think out of the box. Analogous to performance management, time pressure also needs a balance between two extremes.


Redefining the Role of HR in the VUCA World

The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before, thanks to rapid advancements in technology. However, not all organizations witness steady, upward mobility despite consistent technological progress. As any company is embedded in a complex socio-political and economic terrain, it constantly witnesses an impact of multiple factors which together may either lead to overall growth or may hamper progress despite technological capabilities.

With increasing complexity in the systems within which organizations are embedded, organizations witness what is called VUCA which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguousness.

The ability of a company to hire and sustain talent varies with changing industry conditions and its own performance. The role of the HR becomes crucial when organizations thrive to compete in an ecosystem characterized by VUCA as the challenges often have few or no precedents and there is a need to address issues swiftly.


Flexibility & Creativity Vs Traditional HR

Traditional human resource management focuses on the administrative tasks of human resource management and actions are taken only when they are necessary. With this type of management, the focus is more on the individual employee.

For employees, flexible work options offer alternative approaches to getting work done through non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures. They offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments and can result in a more positive and productive work environment.

HR is uniquely placed to support creative and innovative behaviors and processes in an organization.  Creativity is not the mystical attribute reserved for the lucky few; everyone has creative potential.

Furthermore, creativity is a skill that any employee can develop with practice and a process that can be managed.

Furthermore, traditional activities and processes may not be sufficient to meet the unique needs of the future-HR leaders. This mostly relies on the creativity of the employees to achieve effective results. Increasing globalization of the market creates the need for both flexibility and creativity as businesses try to succeed in new locations, with a new workforce, and with new customers.

The Science of Hiring: Data and Your Decision Making

Recruitment refers to the overall process of attracting, shortlisting, selecting and appointing suitable candidates for jobs (either permanent or temporary) within an organization.

The recruitment process, whether for one or multiple positions often invite a huge number of applications- the number can range from dozens to thousands. The applications need to be narrowed down systematically to a more manageable pool to allow for proper vetting of the most qualified applicants.

One of the best ways to screen out respective applications is through a job analysis. A thorough job analysis will result in a detailed understanding of what competencies are needed to hire the right candidates. Equipped with the results of the job analysis, an informed decision regarding the shortlisting can be made.

Once the applicant pool has been screened to a handful of qualified candidates, the next step is to interview them. While interviews are inherently subjective, there are ways to ensure a good amount of objectivity as well.

Beginning with scientifically proven assessments will assist in whittling down a potentially vast applicant pool into a final list of qualified candidates. Interviewing them using a scientifically valid method will increase the hiring process’s objectivity and consistency and allow employers to make a sound decision in selecting the best candidate to suit the role.

Grooming HR Leaders for a Better Tomorrow

Organizations succeed by identifying, developing, and retaining talented leaders. The key concepts of grooming include:

  • Talent provides organizations a key competitive advantage, but there must be managers and a process in place to identify and nurture next-generation leaders.
  • Large and small companies may have a leg up in leadership development. Medium-sized organizations have the most difficulty with talent identification because these companies often lack the infrastructure and human resources capabilities.
  • What separates true leaders from the merely capable is flexibility in leadership styles in order to meet the challenges of the global economy, rapid commoditization, and hyper-competitive environments.
  • People often have a true deficiency in finance and quantitative methods. The point is that future leaders often need to break out of a function where they excel and aim for a bigger picture of the organization and its world.

If they are not trained the right way, they can spend the next twenty years building deeper and deeper skills in a narrow aspect. What they might not be asking themselves, or pushing themselves to ask, is: “What if I had knowledge of other aspects of the business? It would actually inform my decisions in a better way. I could pursue more productive lines of action for the firm.’’ Business is only getting more complicated. Understanding the interactions between various aspects of business becomes very important.