HR Strategies for the Changing Business World

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on October 28, 2011

The role of HR and the strategies it has to craft and deploy has become very challenging. This is because of the significantly changing contours of the business world- be it in our own country or across the globe. Until a couple of decades back, the focus was on Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Over the last 20 odd years, the scope and ‘space’ has shifted to Human Resource Development & Management (HRD & HRM) and as we speak, there is a movement towards claiming its rightful place as a key enabling Strategy for Human Capital Management (HCM).


The above, however, is NOT merely a change in euphemism or semantics. The HR function has metamorphosed into being accountable for crafting a comprehensive People and Process architecture-aligning the external world with the internals of the organisation. Dave Ulrich (the noted HR Guru) has rightly said, “The HR today needs to align its strategies in line with the core business of the organization”. It needs to promote the discovery and strengthening of the ‘intangibles’ of the firm, e.g.:  promoting the employer brand towards converting existing and future employees to be active brand ambassadors. It needs to work on embedding the Corporate Brand values in the Employer Brand Value Proposition.

HR strategy has to increasingly keep a close watch on the current and the emerging required competencies. It would have to include initiatives towards the:

a) Development of the life cycle management of the employee and hence the requisite inputs on personal growth, development and effectiveness.

b) Specific competency gap filling and/or acquiring newer competencies on a need based platform. This includes Training, On the Job development processes, Mentoring/coaching. Strategic Planning tools and techniques including SWOT, PESTLE, Balanced Score Cards etc.

HR Strategy would also need to leverage popular platforms like social media to engage with employees and contribute to overall talent management.  Embracing these newer media- however ‘strange’ it may look for employees born decades earlier-would help immensely in facilitating authenticity, transparency and ‘emotional connect’ in employee communication.

Organizational Democracy needs to be integrated into the HR strategic framework, so that   employees ARE REALLY provided the ‘organisational space’ to ideate innovate and experiment. Company’s like Google and Apple lay a lot of importance on providing employees the freedom to think beyond their conventional roles and responsibilities

Diversity management is another key issue which HR today is grappling with. Diversity needs to be considered as an opportunity as it helps in transfer of effective working practises and ideas across cultures with little or manageable resistance. HR needs to play a crucial role in integrating diversity with management practices and link diversity with business goals. For example, IBM has ensured that the ability to manage diversity is made one of the core competencies and is used to assess the manager’s performance. It has become mandatory for new managers to receive training in Diversity management, and this is how they built in the employees trust by demonstrating their commitment through action

Maintaining a productive and healthy work life balance is emerging as a major challenge for employees. Hence, HR strategy has a ‘vacant space’ to immediately fill with creative and meaningful initiatives. Lifestyle management has to become the concern & focus and not something that ‘has to be managed outside of work or when there is no work to do”.  While stretch goals have proven to be motivating for employees, there is a thin line to walk between stretch, pressure, stress, failure, depression etc.

HR has an opportunity to work on a Total Value proposition. What brings value to the firm, what employee’s value is important challenger to improve retention and bring out the best of employees. ROI is not to be limited to employment engagement, training days and productivity. Additive measures like employee health; well being and happiness need to be focussed. Strategies should not be limited to ROI but also ROE (Return of Expectations) to meet the expected results.

HR function into the emerging tomorrow would be held accountable to proactive management and development of global talent pools, developing access to knowledge centres, developing and deploying life skills capabilities of the employees, managing organizational partnerships (outsourced arrangements) &facilitating increased organizational transparency.

The above would add value to all stakeholders and the sustainability of the business purpose and its longevity.

This article has been authored by Harshit Upadhyay from Welingkar Institute of management and research

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