Soul searching for HR!
COVID-19 crisis have forced organizations to do a lot of soul searching and of course take very different and difficult decisions. Many a times in the centre of these decisions were related to employees. Enhanced performance expectations, managing change, new normal of working, pay cuts, and also job losses. HR has to communicate the difficult decision and also keep the rest of the employees motivated and engaged. There has been a huge jump in the learning opportunities provided for employees as well. At times when I speak to HR leaders, many of them wear this grave sense of responsibility and accountability during these tough times.
When we conduct employee engagement surveys, human resources function scores the lowest. What an irony! The team that is supposed to build the positive culture and engagement, scores the lowest! Often it is linked to the dichotomy of the roles that HR professionals have to handle. I would call them the Yin and the Yang of HR.
Often wearing these two hats often is a difficult proposition for many HR professionals. They tend to get comfortable on one side of the spectrum. Sometimes you will see the Yin dominating in the organization and the employees do not see the Yang side of HR. HR would be seen as controlling, dominating, and often the policing function. It might be seen as an agent of the management, doing the difficult part of managing an organization.
The other side is the Yang part. You would see the more caring and enabling part of HR here. Here HR is trying to be a service function in the organization. The voice of HR is more of employee engagement and motivating them. Often the worry here would be balancing the business and employee interests.
An HR professional needs to find the right spectrum she is comfortable in operating. Finding the “why” of being in the profession can really help them to choose the organization they would like to contribute or bring the desired changes if there is a possibility. As a function employees expect HR professionals to be their advocate with the management rather than the agent of the management. Only a professional with great conviction of their role and also competence can balance both interests. The soul searching by the profession may bring out the aspect that there is a deep sense of purpose where HR is the architect of a workplace that will help employees to thrive and bring their best performance. Often HR professionals will have to think beyond themselves in the process of enabling others.
The question that any HR professional would like to ask in this soul searching exercise is “Why am I in this profession”. A well respected HR leader and a mentor of mine once mentioned “I am very contented if I could support even one employee a day to do better “