Grace Samson, HR Head – Informatica India

“If communication for change is not effective, then there will be a lot of damage control that will need to be worked upon”, Grace Samson, HR Head – Informatica India

You have extensive experience in the entire gamut of HR, what are those HR practices you find most challenging in your HR journey so far?

In the HR world, we experience challenges of different kinds regardless of the size of the organization; these challenges vary in scale and severity. Having said that, some of these challenges are constant regardless of people and irrespective of timeline.

Sharing some of these challenges, 1st among them would be –

Effective Leadership: Finding effective leaders has been one of the biggest challenges for a long time now; the reason to mention effective leadership.

These leaders not only need to be self-motivated, but they must be people that have the hunger to motivate others; in essence they need to be great motivators. Other important dimensions like decision making, being an effective communicator and a great listener go hand in hand. This blend in leadership competencies has been one of the biggest challenges organisations face in today’s world.

 

Innovation along with a culture on Integrity: The second biggest challenge we see in organisations is consistency in innovation. Many organisations have sustained in the industry today because of reinventing themselves with time, these are organization who are continuing to build an innovation mindset. The biggest question to ask is can we get creative / innovative in everything that we do as an organization with an underlying practice of being high on integrity? How can HR work alongside the business towards making this not an one-time event but more of a DNA and a culture within the organization?

 

Change management: Lastly, we see change management to be one ongoing challenge most organisation succumb to. Every organisation goes through change and some of this is anticipated the others are not. HR definitely is at the forefront of this change throughout the employee lifecycle. Right from manpower planning to compensation to downsizing. Another aspect of change is, how does one help employees adapt to change? Because there is so much of resistance around change big and small and at all levels. Right messaging on how effectively change and it’s impact are being communicated is critical to note, cause change can be interpreted very differently at different levels and times.

 

Having worked in a highly complex and demanding environment continually trying to manage costs, what were the HR processes practices that can help reduce cost directly indirectly?

There are two primary reasons, apart from many others.

 

1.Firstly, effective planning. There are several examples of failing to plan despite realizing its importance. If companies don’t forecast and plan well enough, this will have a direct impact on cost. Therefore, it is essential to plan smart.

 

2.Secondly, cautious spend / cash outflow

When we talk about the direct cost, the highest direct cost for any organisation is the labor cost. Second, direct cost is related to employee benefits. Thirdly, employee infrastructure costs like workspace, laptops. There are multiple ways in which HR can add value in cost reduction or spend in a controlled manner, that’s where ones creativity comes into play.

For example, how talent attraction can be cost competitive? There are indeed many organisations which work with vendors and recruitment agencies. However, smarter organizations reinvent themselves to yet attract the best of talent at the lowest possible cost using various sourcing methods which are inhouse.

Especially during these times, most organisations are looking at optimizing on the Work From Home Option. That is one great ways of managing indirect costs. There are organisations that have always been planning smart when it comes to managing indirect costs like providing Hot desking, providing flexibility to employees identifying job roles that can be delivered from the comfort of people’s homes, while their employees are still accountable to deliver results. This saves workspace cost parallelly a balancing act of attracting talent with flexible work option needs. This has a dual benefit of happy employees and lowering cost. This also helps explore into a talent pool which otherwise would remain unexplored.

Second, investing in a lot of smart tools that can help to attract talent is critical. We need to ensure employees are brand ambassadors. When it comes to compensation-related intervention, ensuring construct of rewards programs have a direct co-relation to productivity, profitability and product quality.

Especially during these times, most organisations are looking at optimizing on the Work From Home Option. That is one great ways of managing indirect costs. There are organisations that have always been planning smart when it comes to managing indirect costs like providing Hot desking, providing flexibility to employees identifying job roles that can be delivered from the comfort of people’s homes, while their employees are still accountable to deliver results. This saves workspace cost parallelly a balancing act of attracting talent with flexible work option needs. This has a dual benefit of happy employees and lowering cost. This also helps explore into a talent pool which otherwise would remain unexplored.

 

Some direct means to this are efficient forecasting, reduction in bench strength, multi-skilling employees, infusing a growth mindset, stretch assignments etc., Focus on internal upskilling rather than external certifications which come at a high cost they are not tailored specific to employee upskilling needs. Higher degree of employee retention too helps in ensuring higher productivity, lowering rehiring cost increasing internal opportunities.

 

COVID 19 has surprised the world, and each one of us is moving on with newer learnings; what do you think are the key learnings an HR Talent leader should take from these uncertain times?

Some of the biggest lessons COVID 19 has taught us

 

  1. Business Continuity Planis of primary essence at all times, we got to think futuristic – Being ready to dismantle, to cross-pollinate to have a plan B helps in sending the right signals to employees that we are in control as an organisation.

 

  1. Building Resilience –It is not only building resilience as an organisation but also ensuring we build resilience in every one of our employees. COVID 19 has been a great leveller, regardless of stature, geography, gender or age this pandemic has affected one and all and therefore very critical to be prepared for the worst will help every employee deal with difficult times seamlessly.

 

  1. Being human being alive matters – We have to be alive to achieve greatness and it is not just about breathing to stay alive but about being alive to people’s emotions, appreciations, pain, panic, problems more importantly being alive to humanity will help one rework on their priority list. Some things which we all thought was important pre-COVID does not seem important anymore and therefore goes down our priority list. There is no better time than now leaders are appreciating the human resource professionals for their diligence, for their approach with a human touch and for being proactive re-working the people agenda.

 

What were the critical factors that you have improved, which have been very successful in managing the organizational change How?

Communicating Change ahead of time is of primary essence – Change is never a difficult thing in itself, how change is communicated to the employee, to a larger audience, to the community is the differentiator.

 

Consistent follow through – Post communication follow through is an opportunity to provide higher level of clarity and an opportunity for reiteration.

Flexible during times of change – If changes made in the organisation are not impactful or the change is counter-productive, as you look at real-time progress, real-time result, real-time status, be flexible enough to tweak the changes made to make it impactful. Be transparent with the change and be real about it.

Adding that human touch – Adding that magical human touch to every step towards change management will make it seem more warm and mutual.

 

Covid 19 has challenged a lot of job functions, HR is no exception, what were those critical processes that you think needs to be managed well differently to ensure work as usual

By virtue of being a great fan of Business Continuity Planning, there is no better time than now where HR and HR processes have not just become ciritical for organisations but more importantly essential.

Some of the most critical processes that need to further evolve especially during COVID like times are Candidate Management, Virtual Onboarding, Regular Connects with the business to understand challenges / needs, Infusing the fun element – the employee engagement part real time benefits which align towards virtual workplaces.

 

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