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Dear HR Practitioner, Are You Ready to Wear Multiple Hats?

By | Surya Prakash Mohapatra, Global Head- Talent Transformation,Wipro BPS

Role of HR Practitioner is Evolving

HR function is going through a metamorphosis. As we moved from the industrial economy to a knowledge economy, HR shed its industrial relations and personnel management tag. HR which was a ‘support function to the business’ was elevated to the ‘enabling function status’ in the later years. Today HR is not just an enabler for the business from outside. It is actually an inextricable part of the business itself. How have these changes shaped your role as an HR practitioner? In the past, the HR practitioner merely played the role of a policy maker and enforcer. Today the role has expanded. As an HR practitioner, you are now expected to wear multiple hats. Let’s take a look at these hats:-

  1. Brand Ambassador

Today prospective job applicants would look at your company profile as well as your profile on LinkedIn before making a decision to apply for a job in your organization. In order to attract and retain talent, you need to build the employer brand of your organization. Some recent studies have reported that 84% of passive candidates would consider leaving their current employer for a company with an excellent reputation. Google receives on an average about 140 applications per vacancy. 79% of new hires at Edward Jones come through employee referral. These statistics underscore the importance of employer branding. As the HR leader you are a key influencer when it comes to employer branding for your organization. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Cereerealism says, “If your marketing department is trying to find new ways to connect with customers, the answer might lie down the hallway in your HR department.”

  1. Business Strategist

The CHRO is no longer the Chief Adviser to the CEO. Rather he is the chief strategist for his CEO. In today’s knowledge economy, human capital is the most valuable asset. Attracting, hiring, retaining and unleashing talent in the most efficient and effective manner to drive organizational goals is going to be a key component of future business strategies and the HR function is going to play a key role in driving this. Remember, you are no longer a strategy enabler. Today you are a strategy accelerator with clear accountability for execution and results.

  1. Technology Expert

Technology is all pervasive today. So HR cannot but embrace it. Technology has touched all facets of HR today including recruitment, learning and development, employee engagement, employee communication, employee life cycle management and so on. As a HR leader, you need to stay in touch with advances in technology. HR leaders should have the acumen to leverage the right technology to make their workforce more productive and their people processes more effective, efficient and seamless. Do read my article, “Touching lives through Technology” published by SHRM last year. In this article, you would find various examples of HR technology in use to improve employee experience.

  1. Design Thinker

HR leaders should move from process thinking to design thinking. Design Thinking, when used effectively can be leveraged to solve problems or create new solutions. The beauty of this technique is that it keeps the customers or end-users (employees in your case) at the center stage. You can use design thinking to create positive experiences for people, drive engagement, efficiency, productivity, talent retention etc. HR initiatives without taking into account the needs and expectations of employees will only lead to half-hearted efforts and ineffective results.

  1. Culture Shaper

One of the biggest competitive advantages and key differentiators for an organization is its culture. Lou Gerstner, former CEO and Chairman of IBM in his book Who says Elephants Can’t Dance? says, “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” While the senior leaders in the organization are instrumental in shaping the culture, the HR leader among them plays the most important role. Before working on the culture, as the HR leader you must ask yourself, “What is the vision of my organization?” And then determine what values, behaviours, practices, processes, systems etc. you need to have in place in alignment with this vision. Once they are defined, you can then work towards making these elements part of your organization’s DNA. You may think it is easier said than done. But there is no short-cut to culture building.

  1. Data Scientist

HR Analytics is a hot topic today. HR leaders now can leverage analytics to take well informed data driven smart decisions leading to improved productivity, improved ROI, increased revenue, cost reduction etc. Analytics in HR can help you hire the right talent at the right speed, retain your most valued employees, provide relevant and effective training, drive collaboration and so on. You can leverage predictive analytics to know which employees may leave your company in near future, which training programs can improve business performance, which initiatives can drive employee engagement and many more aspects about their workforce.

  1. Facilitator of Interactions

In the knowledge economy, Knowledge is dynamic and critical to an organization’s success. Employees need to keep upgrading their knowledge all the time. HR and L&D practitioners, themselves cannot cater to this dynamic need of their workforce. But what they can do is build an eco-system and create context where employees can discover who to collaborate with in order to gain knowledge and develop capabilities. The eco-system must include all relevant people, processes and tools to drive collaborative learning in the organization. Social, informal and community based learning would become key elements of this eco-system. HR leaders like you would take on the responsibility of facilitating interactions among employees and ensure that these interactions become intrinsic to the way their organization functions.Image result for role of hr word cloud

Are you ready?
Hooh ! ! So many hats on you !! Wearing multiple hats is not going to be easy for the HR practitioner. The role will have its challenges and complexities. However, at the same time it will have its fair share of excitement also. Dealing with the challenges and complexities would require the right mind-set, skill-set and tool-set for the HR practitioner. Are you ready for the transformation? I assume the answer is ‘yes’.

Please tweet your feedback to me @pmsurya

Surya Prakash Mohapatra is the Global Head- Talent Transformation at Wipro BPS. He is an eminent global thought leader in the L&D space. In 2014 Surya was awarded as one of the 25 Most Talented Training and Development leaders in the world by World HRD Congress.

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