Re-Wiring The HR Mindset

Re-Wiring The HR Mindset

There is no choice, or there is a choice. Change and Survive or Change and Succeed! We must choose either way…Change is inevitable!


As a function HR has changed and evolved in various ways especially since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. There has inadvertently been a shift in gears from mere jargon and terminology to actual change with organisations having to revamp their HR policies to accommodate the demands of the pandemic. From either shutting shop and going belly up to working remotely or in hybrid mode, companies were faced with the challenge of ensuring HR stood the test of time and came through for their employees in the hour of need.


Changing Our Mindset


The HR Mindset refers to Human Resources, as in ‘people in general’ and also ‘the designated function’ of managing people. When it comes to people and their mindset both individuals and enterprises have been running parallel to survive and then to succeed for the last two years. Companies fear bankruptcy and employees fear being made redundant laid off work either temporarily or permanently due to the pressures of the pandemic.


Change in mode of work, change in demographics, change in the manner in which we view our productivity metrics, change in our perspective towards diversity and inclusion, change in outlook towards our own Health and Wellbeing. In addition, there is a change in our outlook towards individuals who do our daily chores, our essential service agents, our delivery agents who were the most crucial human resource during the pandemic, change in how we look at ourselves as employees serving an organisation relentlessly sacrificing our family and health, change in perspective of what growth means to us, the choice between wealth or health and the concept of minimalistic living…and the list goes on.


The Scope of Change


We need to acknowledge that this change is not temporary, it is here to stay and it is going to be continuous. The HR function has always written the rule book on how the human organisation should run, be it Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Performance Management, Competencies or Culture Building and Engagement frame works, Remuneration Philosophy, Retention & Incentive framework, Attendance & Timesheets…again the list goes on.


However, when faced with the pandemic that hit us out of the blue, the rulebook needed to be looked at and rewired to meet the demands of working through a pandemic and ensuring employee benefits that make employees want to join and stay with the company long term; in short, it was more than just an enticing salary figure and the usual appraisals and increments that was going to be needed in order to avoid employees from looking out for change.


Our mindset has engrained and engineered these practices in compartments in our mind, wherein the focus is defined and restricted by that function or the domain and has limited us to operate with an open mind. We will have to throw away this rule book and stop being the rigid custodian of policy and framework.


The very mindset of standardisation, rigidity, jargon and definitions always restricted us and prevented us from brushing up close and personal with Business and People at the same time, and not understanding the nuances to customise and operate at any given point in time. It was always going back and referring to the rule book with scheduled reviews at given intervals annually or bi-annually, adding updates to the existing performance and other reviews, and as usual, playing by the rules. Figuratively speaking, there was no thinking outside the box or getting rid of the box completely.


Changing the Mind Wiring


Time to change our ‘Mind-Wiring’; the change in the ‘Circuit’ is a ‘MUST DO’ for all HR folks. There is a paradigm shift in the workforce, it is a ‘workforce of ONE’ regardless of geography, ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, age, special ability, capability or even generation X, Y and Z, it is just the talent and their productivity that matters. The pandemic did away with geographical boundaries and made working seamless and boundaryless. It also had companies looking into more inclusive work policies and the upskilling and reskilling of its existing workforce to bring them up to speed with the company needs or take on other roles within the organisation.


As far as rudimentary changes are concerned, we have already begun the drill, like the way we recruit or hire, the way we measure performance and productivity, the way we look at timesheets and attendance or not to look at it at all, and the way we look at office space or mode of work (home/office). Most of these are archaic work systems and policies and need to be updated to fit the present and future work scenario in the years to come. Will we go back to functioning the way we did in the pre-pandemic era? I think most organisations know the answer to that and are preparing for the advent of the future.


The ‘What of Performance’ will always have to be defined by the enterprise and the organisation in Businesses facilitated by HR, the language we use must have the ability to provide clarity in the midst of ambiguity; it must be much clearer and more precise with sharp expectations linked to rewards. The way we describe the ‘How of Performance’ has changed as now the individual has the choice to choose his base of work (office/ home/ holiday home), the channel (online or offline), or the equipment (laptop/phone device) they will need to operate out of in order to complete a set of specific tasks that are assigned to them and accomplish the organisational goal. Now how they build a perception of themselves is their choice. The risk of not allowing that freedom to employees could result in higher attrition.


There is now a choice, whether we change our process and our philosophy which we are forced to already, or we change our mindwiring, accept our vulnerability, learn to listen by putting our ears to the ground and trusting that change will come about; change for good, and more importantly, develop the ability to sustain it. We need to stop thinking of the word ‘normalcy’ as it pulls us to get back to a comfortable sweet spot called ‘square one’. The present work scenario is the new normal and the quicker organisations warm to that concept, the more successful they are likely to be at surviving through the pandemic and the uncertainties of the future. As human beings, it is humanly impossible to not think that way unless we change our mind-wiring. Human Resources is no more a mere function with a fixed mindset; it must be a dynamic function with a growth mindset.


Thanks to the far and few audacious and authentic HR leaders of today who have given hope to the function and built up a sizeable following of like-minded individuals who resonate with their ideas and their eclectic style to lead businesses at Global level and are not restricted to their function by a closed mindset. These leaders did have within them the compassion, the accountability, the humility, and the confidence which helped them defy the norms; these leaders exhibited the courage and conviction to ‘make it happen’ for themselves and their organisations. I am sure it was a lot of preparation coupled with striking at the right opportunity. In future, I am confident that this breed of bold and brave HR professionals and leaders will grow in number and that the ‘if it has to be, it’s up to me’ attitude and conviction will gain momentum and permeate every leader.


It is more the preparation of the mind than anything else for such massive changes to happen! It is time to prepare ourselves for this cathartic exercise.

Abha Nair heads the HR function as VP–People at Spykar Lifestyles Pvt Ltd. She is an accomplished HR professional with 18 years plus experience in large conglomerates such as the Hinduja Group (IndusInd Bank), TNT India Ltd., Essar Group etc. Abha has strong credentials in defining HR strategy, identifying key operational HR processes and tools for Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Engagement and organisational culture.


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