HR managers all over the world are of the opinion that switching to employee centric policies should be done without any further delay. The pandemic has hit everyone hard, and employees are no different as they had to shift to a completely new model of work. The process of moving to remote working or work from home wasn’t as smooth for a lot of companies because they didn’t have the technology setup in place to support a change in the work model.
HR leaders have had to deal with hurdles like cost-efficiency amongst others to prepare HR operating models in the past. Employing big data and analytics didn’t do any favors either to serve the purpose of preparing employee centric policies. Over the years, HR departments have had to follow a policy making mandate that only puts the company at the forefront. It involves backing technology adoption, optimizing labor costs, and reinforcing compliance.
The areas that HR has always focussed on, including recruitment as well as learning and development – the focus has always been to drive productivity in employees and coming up with ways of measuring how productive different employees have been in a particular time period. However, things have dramatically changed, especially in the last couple of years or so. Human resource professionals now are trying to find answers to a question that has been there for a long time but was never addressed properly. Is process more important than innovation and creativity when it comes to attracting and developing talent, optimizing operational strategy, and managing and recognizing good performers?
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The first step to answering this question requires HR managers across the world to move to a more human centric approach to devising HR policies. The pandemic increased the reliance of employees on HR professionals to help them overcome their mental as well as physical challenges of not only shifting to a new model of work but ensuring they are productive while doing so. This over-reliance made the HR bring in a human element to their approach of putting together policies, which previously focussed only on technological advancements.
The shift in focus of HR towards employee centric policies was evident in a recent research by McKinsey, conducted to understand the role of HR leaders in creating a work model, keeping the future in mind. Most of the HR officers spoke of their willingness to shift to a “back to human” work model that keeps employees at the center of everything. They are also of the view that the pandemic has also made them look to more agile HR models for bringing strategic thinking into the mix and managing daily employee requirements. In the research, it was also found that HR officers have no plans to slow down as they continue to receive questions from employees regarding hybrid work and its future.
The first things that HR leaders can do to go people-centric with their policies is increase their engagement with employees, and ensure that those are on a deeper level than ones in the past. Due to some of the strategies that HR professionals have been using for some time, it has been hard for them to build relationships with employees on a more personal level. Some of these strategies include directing the employees to use self-service tools and using tools to manage performance of remote employees.
Many HR officers now want to move away from those strategies that pushed employees to use self-service solutions and turn to ways that can help them engage more directly with employees. It is very important to add a personal touch to remote interactions, in order for them to bear the right results. Even if face-to-face meetings can’t still be done, HR professionals need to ensure that they are giving enough individual attention to every employee.
In order to shift to a more employee centric approach, HR needs to take a more dynamic and targeted approach to addressing employee experience. They need to consider aspects that are beyond the usual terms of employee-employer relationship. Their policies should not only cater to diversity, inclusion, and equity but also the purpose that they are supposed to serve.
The reinvention of employee experience starts with respecting individual preferences and adapting to changing circumstances faster. Looking for employees within the organization that need diverse and more support is not the only thing that HR has to do. What they also should look to do more often is to create a shared environment of cohesion and well-being throughout the organization.
It should all begin by promoting better relationships between employees and their supervisors or managers. When employees are comfortable with their environment and people, they are more likely to perform better and be more satisfied with their role and duties. HR managers need to work with different supervisors and managers and make them understand the importance of workplace relationships.
Another important takeaway from the McKinsey research is the willingness of companies to engage more with freelancers and temporary employees than they used to before the pandemic. And the objective of this move by HR managers is not to reduce costs but to turn to a more flexible way of recruitment and find talent from a pool that is usually not available for permanent employment opportunities.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes required to employ a more people centric approach. The first requirement is to have HR managers and professionals that can live the change themselves before setting out to implement it across different departments. Before changing anything, HR leaders need to understand an organization’s internal culture and its capacity of undergoing change. Not only this, HR needs to understand the talent market or pool it is drawing talent from. This way, they will be able to support their organisation through change but also shape how things are done in the future.
- ‘Back to human’: Why HR leaders want to focus on people again | McKinsey & Company | Talha Khan, Asmus Komm, Dana Maor, and Florian Pollner | June 4, 2021
- Why HR leaders need a business mind with a people focus | Human Resource Executive | Jen Colletta | December 2, 2020
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