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Growing Importance and Evolution of the Role of HR Over the Years With data-driven visions and exceptional organisational knowledge, HR leaders are making a huge impact in the boardroom

By Payal Sondhi

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In the last few decades, there has been a paradigm shift in the management approach followed by the organizations. Earlier the focus was on the functions like planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating then moving on to attendance, payroll, recruitment, etc. However, over the years, the principles have evolved and the focus has shifted on managing the employees than supervising them. With this shift in the management approach, there has been a subsequent shift in the role played by HR in the organization as well. An HR manager now wears multiple hats; these roles vary based on the need of the hour from being an employee advocate, a change agent and a strategic partner. Let's look at each of these roles and understand how they play their individual part in an organization.

Employee Advocate

An HR manager plays a vital role in the organization's strategic planning that is directly aligned to their vision. This includes their advocacy/relationship with the employees as that determines the success rate of the organization through the employee's commitment and productivity. Promoting effective ways of goal setting, motivation, communication and empowerment through owning responsibility builds the employee-owner relationship of the organization and it is the HR's role to construct the same.

In the employee advocacy role, the HR manager provides employee training programs, team building courses, employee grievance cells, reward and recognition initiatives, employee growth opportunities, talent management strategies, profit sharing policies and transparent communication channels from the bottom to the top.

Change Agent

Besides the fact that the HR Manager's major role is of hiring, training, monitoring and observing the performance of her/his team; it also plays a very important role of a change agent. Change Management is essential for every step in an organization. If you want to meet the sales target that has been set, change management helps. If a new strategy needs to be executed, change management is required. If there is abrasion in the market that shall directly affect your organisation, you have to implement a strategy through change management. Change management is the adoption of measures and steps as per the given situation that will help deliver the required results and outcome.

Besides their own department, the HR manager also promotes change in other departments through various HR practices. The manager identifies the organization's vision and accordingly plans the actions and incorporates the change as and when it is required. Through change, the manager determines as to how the strategies that were undertaken is benefitting the organization.

Strategic Partner

A joint 2015 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and fellow HR and Labor organizations titled "Human Resources Management Policies and Practices in the United States" shows that executives want HR teams to step up. The report surveyed close to 700 executives in organizations with more than 200 employees and found that 70 percent of respondents said that "HR has a place on the board of directors," compared to just 41 percent in 2004. This is where a strategy partner comes into the picture. A strategy partner is the biggest transformation of the HR role in the new era. As a strategic partner, the critical areas for HR to look into are the following -

  • Succession Planning - Succession planning is a procedure through which an organization make sure that the employees are recruited to fill in all the key roles, also ensuring that no key role has been left open. It involves hiring employees on the top management positions, developing their skills and knowledge to prepare them for bigger and challenging roles and expansion in the organization and keeping the second line in command ready to take on the respective roles if/when required.
  • Personnel Management - Besides the role of hiring, training, orientations, appraisals and compensation, personnel management also involves creating and implementing policies/processes to form an employee-supportive structure in the organization. This plays a critical role when it comes to building a strategy as per the organization's foresight.
  • Employee Development- Employee development, also known as career development is a win-win one for both the employers and the employees. In this, the organization provides the required assistance to the employee for him/her to grow within the organization. But in employee development, a single strategy doesn't work for all, HR needs to define the appropriate amount of time, resources, training a role or as per the individual's requirements, the focus is on developing talent and leverage on their individual strengths. At the same time, the employee besides growing in their respective careers also puts in efforts to grow professionally as per organization's plan.
With data-driven visions and exceptional organisational knowledge, HR leaders are making a huge impact in the boardroom. Employers who are taking advantage of these insights in their strategic planning are already strengthening their businesses, relationships - internally and externally and earning the benefits.
Payal Sondhi

Manager - Human Resources, SILA

Payal Sondhi is the Human Resources Manager at SILA.
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