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    The Changing Role of HR in VUCA times

    The Changing Role of HR in VUCA times

    Sep 7, 2021 | Technology Optimization & Streamlining

    The business environment today is changing very fast due to either changes in the regulatory framework or due to impact of political or economic changes in both domestic and global environment. Today organizations and employees are grappling to manage such situations which are beyond their control.

    Today businesses are unable to foresee the uncertainties that may rock them in the near future and hence the myth of long term planning is taking a back seat and evolution of short and immediate to mid term strategies is capturing the mindshare in every board meetings. The question comes that as a HR leader, how do you adapt to this ever changing new and volatile environment or which is now commonly known as the VUCA times (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous).Today CEO’s expect HR functions to play a more inclusive role in business strategies to counter the challenges of the VUCA times:

    1. Understanding every avenue of the business to its core

    Each HR person in the organization should be aligned and understand the nuts and bolts of the business. HR can play a pivotal role in working with business heads to ensure that the business strategy was articulated in a clear and simple way and Goalsheet or KRA/KPI’s are aligned to deliver optimum business results. HR’s understanding of business should be such that they should be in a position to push back business leaders in case the departmental/individual goals are not found to be aligned to the overall organization goals. A deep understanding of business also helps a HR person to recruit a more technically competent person for the role, play an important role during performance Management and Talent discussions.

    2. HR as a business partner

    Today HR is no longer a function to manage routine attendance, payroll, and recruitments. The changing times have ensured that HR is seen to a true business partner who understands the priorities of the business and adapts itself in the way business wants them to deliver the results. Being closer to business by adopting to “hands on approach” rather than “Arm chair management approach” is one of the key requisites in the changing role of HR. Business partnering model is seen as key to accelerating the evolution of the HR function.

    There is also a pertinent need for the Business Partner role to have much greater impact on the business value chain by ensuring that HR services are producing the desired impact on business outcomes and results. There is an expectation that HR should also get into business issues and dive deep into the sea rather than sitting at the bay and watching things happen its natural way. Taking risk, faster TAT in providing solutions to employees, proactive decision making, hiring the right Talent and retention strategies for key resources is the key to success in the Biz partner role.

    3. Leverage Technology and Innovate

    One of the key ingredients for any business to succeed in today’s VUCA world is to innovate and leverage technology. The people practices of any organization should leverage on technology and innovate in the areas like Hiring, Background checks, Talent Management, Performance Management, Communication and information desk, Employee forums etc. This will help in faster decision making and move to more lean HR structure yet focusing on delivering the desired results much faster than before. Today the world have moved from desktops and laptops to mobile and apps. It is not far from reality when the employee life cycle will get managed through mobile apps and physical presence of HR in locations will be a matter of the past.

    4. Build Capabilities in people and Multitasking abilities

    In the VUCA world, managing change will be a continuous process and one will have to invest in it to build the capabilities in him/herself to adapt to this changing environment. Continuous learning, upgradation of skill sets will be the key to overcome the challenges. HR leaders need to develop training programs at every level which will help in building the desired skill sets in its people. It will also be the need of the hour to have people who are able to manage multi tasking role and not limit themselves to one specific role. HR should be able to identify the right talent and promote such talent for critical projects and assignments. Ability to manage multifarious roles will also be the key to survive in extreme conditions where one business or function is not doing well vis-à-vis others. HR should create Centre’s of Excellence in learning and promote learning as an essential behaviour in people for providing future growth. In most organizations, the responsibility of driving change lies with the business leaders, and HR takes over the role of supporting line managers in delivering change initiatives. A fine balance between imparting learning through Internal learning programs and sponsoring people for external learning programs need to drawn up. Organization should not shy away from sponsoring deserving candidates for MDP and short term courses managed by reputed B-schools. This also acts as very effective retention tool for top performers. Another important area of skill building is to create pool of senior Biz and HR leaders to become certified Trainers. Great organizations focus a lot in this area which in most smaller organization are not perceived as a value added process and seldomly ignored.

    Another important aspect of people development can be evolution of Individual development Plans (IDP) for key resources in the organization. This is a very effective tool in western countries and developing countries should start investing in it.

    5. Culture of Change

    Lastly, HR should play the role of change agent. The biggest challenge that organizations face while driving the change agenda is to manage the expectations of its people. Change is ought to have resistance, but it’s an art to manage this change effectively.

    The areas that needs to be dwelled are : Fairness, Meritocracy, Transparency, Organization Value framework and its mission and purpose. All these needs to be created as the policy and communication around it should be designed. Some of the very effective drivers for cultural transformation are to be ingrained in parameters for Growth, have effective communication tools like Open houses, business forums etc., IDP session or feedbacks and also rewards and recognitions.

    The HR community today has far more to deliver than probably what it had to do a decade back. Today HR is perceived as a more responsible and effective business partners who are no longer restricted to talent acquisition but are making their inroads to boardrooms and becoming a key stakeholder as far as Organization strategy is concerned.

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