The Complete Human Resource Publication

Start to Finish: Integrated Human Resources across Employee Life Cycle  

In such a complex scenario, human resources could not remain unchanged. It was no longer just a place where salary slips were processed or small ads for vacancies were approved

Businesses are complex entities with multi-layered functions. Within Human Resources, the last one century itself has seen numerous shifts and change in focus on what would constitute as key function. At the beginning of the 20th century, the focus was entirely on manufacturing and to develop processes to make it efficient and cost effective. At the end of the Second World War, after the impact of great human tragedy and the world becoming a smaller place due to integration of markets and currencies, sales became a force to reckon with. The first round of technological changes followed by the rise of Asian business giants put Marketing to the forefront as people and companies were working in countries where they did not have a footprint. However, it was with the impact of globalisation, rise of new emerging markets like China and India, the arrival of a single European currency and changed migration patterns of skilled labour that Human Resources really came into a focal role. There were many reasons for this. Firstly, the workplace itself had become a diverse entity. It was no longer mono-cultural. There were people of all races, ethnicities and geographies. The rise of women managers added another dimension and special skills; it was a need to sensitize male workplaces to female colleagues. Certain behaviours which were taken for granted were frowned upon; care had to be taken in professional interactions and emotional sensibility was a key to manage. W.D. Scott, Robert C. Clothier, William R. Spriegel, In 1949, defined Human Resource Management as that branch of management which is responsible for staff, “Concentrating on those aspects of operations which are primarily concerned with the relationship of management to employees; and employees to employees and with the development of the individual and the group. In the 1950s, the father of Marketing Peter Drucker considered it to be just ‘administration of human resources’.

The rise of big consultancy organisations and the revolution in the IT and ITES industry brought about one of the biggest changes as the last millennium was drawing to a closed. Between Silicon Valley, India and China, organisations were now employing hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, of every colour and ethnicity, dispersed across all locations, connected with just their phone and laptops. Matrixed reporting structures, multiple project dimensions, work colleagues who only met each other on video-conferencing became the new way of working. The days when people worked with one company loyally for 35 years had come to an end. People changed jobs two to three times in the first five years of qualifying itself! Self growth, challenging opportunities, new responsibilities became key to staying in or leaving a job!

The Millennial Generation needed reasons to stay in a Job

A little bit of money would not cut it for them. For the experienced corps, the chance of heading up a large, diverse conglomerate became possible, an opportunity they were not willing to give up on. The employment sector had turned on its head.

Even traditional businesses in India saw a sea-change with the economic reforms as growth and expansion became rapid due to ease of doing business. Sales forces were hardly seen to be sitting in office filling vouchers or taking orders. They were out in the market. Decisions were taken on email rather than long-drawn lunch meetings. Raw materials could be processed thousands of miles away, put together in an off shore location like Malaysia or the Philippines and then sent to markets in South or North America.

In such a complex scenario, human resources could not remain unchanged. It was no longer just a place where salary slips were processed or small ads for vacancies were approved. It started to undergo a sea-change to develop robust processes and systems which would make these new organisations risk proof when conducting business or managing relationships with and between staff.

The 21st century brought in more opportunities to millions though campus placements; a job in hand before the final result was even in and HR became known as the big gateway for an employee’s experience with a company, which had to be enriching and fruitful. Human Resources thus became a multi-layered internal and external function, which had to do its own form of company branding (to make it attractive to high quality talent), employee branding (to retain that talent), performance evaluation in real time (to erase any chance of bias) 360 degree feedback (to make the employee a part of the process), describing performance as output, impact and outcome (to make the organisation less hierarchical and the top management more approachable) and to link it all together with the reputation of the company itself.

So, how does Human Resources describe itself today? In 1998, Harvard Business Review spoke about a new mandate for Human Resources. This mandate, author Dave Ulrich said, “Could be done by creating an entirely new role and agenda that focuses it not on traditional HR activities, such as staffing and compensation, but on outcomes. HR should not be defined by what it does but by what it delivers—results that enrich the organisation’s value to customers, investors, and employees.” His recommendations were that:

• First, HR should become a ‘partner’ with senior and line managers in strategy execution;

• Second, it should become an ‘expert’ in the way work is organised and executed, delivering administrative efficiency to ensure that costs are reduced while quality is maintained;

• Third, it should become a ‘champion for employees’, vigorously representing their concerns to senior managers and at the same time working to increase employees’ contribution – ‘that is, employees’ commitment to the organisation and their ability to deliver results’;

• Finally, HR should become an ‘agent of continuous transformation’; shaping processes and a culture that together improves an organisation’s capacity for change.

Ulrich’s model of the HR role has set the agenda for people management in the twenty-first century as being essentially about its contribution to organisational performance.

The Human Resources department in organisations of today are embracing this Transformational Management philosophy, moving towards making people the centre of the core HR function. “Employee Experience” is therefore central to all HR processes. Right from day one when a potential candidate is identified, to the day he is finally recruited, HR ensures that the entire process itself is insightful and enriching. Organisations are using both traditional and new technological resources based on the profile they require. Considerable research goes into creating the job profile, the psychographic analysis of the kind of person who would add value and what are professional gaps the position is required to fill. This goes into the recruitment search system so that there is a clear weaning out from those who are merely interested to those who can be a good fit. This is perhaps the most crucial function of the HR department and an efficient HR team spends a considerable amount of time in research and review before compiling the final requirement.

Potential Candidates are given detailed job descriptions to enable them to understand the role expectations even before accepting the job. The company culture is on display on various social media platforms and tranparency is the key towards Employer Branding. The more open you are, the better the chances of the “right fit” of an employee.

The first few months are very inappropriately called the ‘settling in period’. A new individual feels nothing if not ‘unsettled’. It is a sharp learning curve for them and the organisation. The new person has to get an understanding of a new workplace in a very quick time and the HR team has to ensure that the person proves to be a right ‘fit’. It is not just a financial loss if it doesn’t work out, it is a huge setback for the reputation and employer branding. At DS Group, we lay great emphasis on the onboarding process of a new employee. Starting from designing a very well thought of Induction week, to assigning a “Buddy” to work with a brand new employee in their demanding early days, the HR assist is on hand for a complete walkthrough. It is important to ensure something as simple as getting the workstation ready and a valid official e-mail created. The Orientation period is the most important to rudder a new ship. Who does what, where does the individual fit into the jigsaw puzzle, what is the ‘big picture’ of the organisation, all these need to be understood by a new employee through face-to-face interactions which also go towards building long-term relationships. It is easy to ‘forget’ who does what in large organisations as the busy day job quickly catches up and leaves no time – once targets, outputs and workplans are in place – to understand what other people actually do!

We at DS Group do not have a single-dimensional, one-size-fits-all policy. Induction plans are different for diverse functions for our business interests which range from mass brands in confectionary, dairy and mouth fresheners to service oriented bsinesses in hospitality and other differing functions. Sales staffs, which spend most of their time in the field, are tutored in the technology available like hand held electronic devices to check in with their line managers, upload their targets and review their feedback.

Once the recruitment is done and the new joinee has got a feel of the organisation, it is time for performance management and here clear, advance planning is key based on smart and realistic discussions between the employee and the line manager. This would prevent any disagreement at the time of review or agreeing to performance-related benefits at the end of the cycle.

It is an accepted fact that though money is important, it is not always the only reason a person chooses to stay or leave a job. This is where the design of employee engagement and their ‘feelings’ towards an organisation come into play. Being happy is not always being engaged with the company, or vice versa. Long-serving and new employees both have to be advocates and brand ambassadors for the organisation externally. This word-of-mouth is the best kind of endorsement that a large organisation can hope for. There are many companies in the world who invest considerably in employee engagement. Strategic Leadership and Top Management are groomed and advised by HR to take a leading role in shaping employee opinion. At DS Group, HR works with Heads of Departments to identify talent within who can be fast-tracked to a significant role in the future with the right training and management. For those who have come in externally, career paths are charted out for strategic hires. Retention is not just about giving an extra 10 percent in gross CTC! It is about making an individual feel wanted, valued and respected. Investing in the employee – through learning and development is of immense importance. Giving employees a chance to refresh their knowledge and bring it up to speed with the latest developments, attending executive development courses or work attachments across the spectrum; help to add value and makes an employee embrace the workplace with more commitment.

Does this mean that the modern system of human resource management will focus entirely on the employee well-being and feel-good factors? On the contrary, this is where the pluralist system of HRM comes to the fore where all stakeholders – senior management, leaders, HODs, employees, general staff, specialist professionals, all work towards a common, identified goal. In the end, it is all about the strategic fit: between organisational goals, employee aspirations, human resources objectives and smart tactics to acquire talent, manage existing talent pool, innovate, put in robust, measurable performance management systems and evaluate periodically that HRM is steady and on course.


By Simin Askari

The author is the Vice President HR, DS Group





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