Nearshore Americas

The Role of Human Resources as We Know it is No More

Never has Human Resources (HR) been as integral a part of an organization’s success as it is today. From a support function to having a seat at the decision-making table, HR has evolved to become pivotal to corporate strategies. More so in the post-pandemic era, when HR has given an exponential strategic thrust, transforming it into a decision-making partner in an organization.

If 2020 is to be remembered as the year of survival for businesses, much of it will be attributed to the HR function, for ensuring the safety of its employees, transitioning seamlessly to a remote working environment and keeping the organization engaged in a virtual scenario. 

We have survived waves of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe and we are still battling it. The sheer enormity of the global pandemic put all our survival instincts to the test. A new world order is in the offing. In many ways, HR is reimagining this new world order for the future of the workplace as a ‘Live Enterprise, which is connected, sentient, and intelligent. 

Measuring HR Impact

What will be the future of work, workplace and workers in the ‘new normal’ then? This is the biggest challenge for any organization today and HR is at the core of decrypting this code, as well as making it work. For a heavily people-centric and client-focused industry like ITeS, the challenge is amplified. 

Read more: A Leap Beyond the Usual

Businesses the world over are facing uncertainties and seeking innovative technology disruptions to adapt to the new world order as the topmost priority, while focusing on their employees’ (and families’) well-being. Here, the corporate and HR objectives merge. Employee well-being has become an all-encompassing definition consisting of medical needs, emotional care, work-life integration, burnout care, appreciation and recognition, work satisfaction, work life-personal life integration, hybrid world assimilation and so on. There is a flurry of engagement, care, benefits, activities that is part of a larger corporate purpose in the post-pandemic world and is being led by HR leaders. 

Read more: The Bat-terfly Effect of Wuhan

People-related matters mostly involve tangible capital investments and intangible softer aspects like care and empathy. It is important to know what and how much HR is doing at every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle and how business practices are subsequently transforming to become more connected with 360° visibility of deeper insights based on data.  

Business Speaks in Numbers, so Should HR

As the complexities of Digital 4.0 deepen, skills have become a prerequisite for organizations to survive and thrive. About 65% of organization revenue is attributed to people resources who work 24/7 across geos for a range of clients on a variety of projects. And the responsibility to acquire, manage, engage, and value this single most valuable asset of organizations – the people – lies with the HR. 

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These are the pivotal touchpoints where HR contributes significantly to an organization’s journey to the future workplace:

  • Getting the right skilled talent for businesses at optimal cost with faster turnaround time in onboarding the people resources. 
  • Charting a plan to ensure the available talent pool is skilled, reskilled, and upskilled to ensure continued relevance in digital innovation for business solutions.
  • Maximizing day-to-day productivity of people and overall performance through differentiated talent framework, while recognizing and rewarding meritocracy to motivate, retain and nurture talent at best cost structures.
  • Engaging with employees and their families consistently to drive a sense of purpose and empathy in a bid to build a content employee base. There’s a strong correlation between CSAT and eSAT. Employees are our growth partners and impact business progress.
  • Designing a competitive bouquet of offerings to meet people’s aspirations and organization goals. 
  • Integrating diverse & inclusive global talent pool to achieve ‘glocalization” agenda of organizations in meeting client demands and attain business growth.
  • Driving compliance through audit and system checks to gain the trust of all stakeholders involved. 

Traditionally, HR has faced questions on ROI generation from costs incurred on people resources because HR is not typically associated with direct business earnings or sales. Today, that question has been put to rest, considering the high value associated with people resources of an organization, in driving business growth above and beyond the usual. But the HR function also needs to evolve. It must leverage technology and Big Data to quantify the benefits of investing in people.  

Read more: Business as Usual in Unusual Times

But it’s one thing to quantify efforts and quite another to derive insights from metrics that matter at the C-suite level. The success of HR metrics is considered when it helps businesses design fool-proof future decisions. The below illustration puts into perspective the role of HR vis-a-vis its “business impact” on core corporate strategies.

At a tactical level, the data leverage in HR function can help organizations derive key action points, understand current vs future predictive trends, measure operational efficiency, employee productivity, get backing of actionable insights to put across a strong pitch to prospective clients, and build strategies to optimize current assets and resources.

Read more: Business as Usual, at Home

In this age of disruption and uncertainty, it is after all vital to make the right decisions at the right time, in order to navigate new realities and design future business decisions. Data offers organizational agility to adapt to new situations quickly and take decisions to define newer operating models, develop appropriate capabilities, and gain competitive advantage. 

At a basic level, HR collects data for two main purposes:

Tactical Level:

  • Understand how much of what we are doing?
  • How effective it is?

Bottom line: Quantify efforts and use them to improvise/eliminate or initiate new efforts. 

Example: How diverse is an organization’s staff? A data-centric answer to this question could lead to several insights, accelerate efforts to hire diverse talent, address inclusion issues, initiate diversity-related policies and so on. 

Strategic Level:

  • Does data give deep insights?
  • Do those insights tell a story you can sell or need to address?
  • Do those numbers help organizations make business decisions? 

Bottom line: Use data mining tools to draw insights for strategic decisions

Example: High geo-diversity percentages helps organizations in positioning themselves strategically in solving client needs, and emphatically pitching its core values of diversity and inclusion to prospective clients. 

These data sets have become key to strategic decision-making, impacting billion dollars deals, strongly backed by the ‘people’ aspect, cultural alignment and talent pool assimilation of an organization. 

The Future is Counting on HR

Most recently, HR metrics are being looked at with microscopic scrutiny to help businesses navigate new realities. Traditional approaches to dealing with the above factors are surely not going to make the cut. 

Read more: A Hybrid Model Framework

HR leaders today are therefore neck-deep in finding answers to complex questions on how employee engagement, employee retention, talent acquisition, talent mobility, new C&B structures, perform in a hybrid world. Building social capital, which impacts engagement/retention, and adds up to employee experience, is tough to achieve in a virtual world and tougher still to measure. Insights from HR data holds the key to decrypt this riddle of how future workplaces would look like. 

All eyes are now on HR leaders, to not just enable but empower organizations with data, metrics, and actionable insights, to accelerate to the next level of business growth.

Dependra Mathur

Dependra Mathur is the SVP & Global head of Human Resources Development (HRD) and a member of the Executive Council of Infosys BPM. He is a proven leader with over 18 years of experience in HRD, and 14 years in business management.

Over the last 15 years at Infosys, Dependra has managed various key functions, including Compensation & Benefits, Learning & Development, Talent Planning, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Diversity & Inclusion. An accomplished HRD professional, he has led Infosys BPM HRD efforts in winning and executing many large M&A deals over the years. With a strong focus on global centers, he has led, developed, and executed several people integration programs, while also helping strengthen the company’s compliance, processes, and systems. Dependra has worked with Wipro, WeP Peripherals, and Tata Motors, before joining Infosys BPM in 2006. He has managed HRD for multiple global locations and subsidiaries, and compensation & benefits for employees across the world.

Dependra has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and has done Electrical Engineering from VNIT Nagpur. He has also completed the Infosys Global Leadership Program from Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, and is a Certified Corporate Director from the Institute of Directors.

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