From being a cost centre, HR function is fast emerging as a new profit centre
All in all, interesting times are ahead for the continuously-evolving HR function to play a more strategic business role and less of a tactical intervention specialist
Nakul Mathur was involved in the opening of some of India's most exotic resorts and building them up to excellent guest services level. Prior to joining Avanta, he had worked with Regus being responsible for North India and Pakistan operations, while setting up several new business centres for the company. He thinks that co-working spaces, also popularly known as flexible offices, are ruling the roost and are the necessary requirement for future businesses be it a large or small-sized corporate. The benefits these spaces bring in, range from zero capital investment, flexibility and hassle free allotment. These features are proving attractive for corporate and freelancers. The industry has shown a tremendous expansion at more than 300 per cent in the last few years and will continue to grow at a faster pace. Operators have to realise that the quality of services provided, will be the differentiating and assessing factor amongst various service providers. If this is one significant new trend, the other important new trend is the hybrid work mode. All such new trends taken together, are forcing HR functions in an organisation to evolve and adapt itself to the new realities.
Speaking to Bizz Buzz exclusively, Nakul Mathur, Managing Director of Avanta India, a leading service provider of fully equipped private office and co-working space, explains how HR function in an organisation is fast emerging as a profit centre from being a cost centre
The HR function of any organisation is no longer a cost centre. It's fast emerging as a profit centre. At least a number of organisations have started thinking on those lines. What should a HR functionary do to first (before anything else) to embrace this new reality?
Yes, you are right. The human resource (HR) function of business organizations is steadily moving its positioning from being a cost-centre to becoming a profit-centre. Along with it, the business workplace too has evolved in a multi-fold and substantial manner. And I think every HR-related professional must, to start with, look at the top trends in HR and the workplace. They need to know about these trends and adapt his or her style of operations accordingly.
When you talk about the top trends in the HR function, what is the most significant trend that you have noticed in the recent time…something a HR functionary must take note of and change his/her style of functioning accordingly?
Given the flexibility ingrained in the business over the past few years as well as the prevalence of Covid-19, much of the modern task force has moved to work from home (WFH) or performing work in a hybrid (a combination of working from home and working from the office) manner. Apart from the flexibility imparted at work, hybrid work has allowed employees across the world to save on travel time, expenses, office time, and being able to spend more time with their families and friends. Moreover, co-working is also a trend that has caught up in a big way along with hybrid work. It entails employees working from a flexible third-party workspace rented by either the business or the employee himself/herself.
How should a HR professional make best use of this new trend for the benefit of the employees and the organisation?
I think the HR functionary needs to utlise this hybrid mode of working or the hybrid taskforce for learning and development. When employees get to do hybrid work or work from home, they release more of their time for upskilling themselves. As such, training and learning interventions for the modern-era employee are helping him/her grow, develop, and advance further in their career. That employees can learn and acquire new skills and capabilities from the comfort of their homes has led to the emergence of several online training courses in addition to their physical/offline counterparts.
How would you define holistic employee well-being? How can overall workplace be improved by taking care of such holistic well-being of employees?
If you ask me, I would say that employee well-being doesn't just pertain to comfortable chairs, air-conditioned workplaces, and efficiently-working laptops. It also spills over to the kind of work environment and culture that gets established over the years. With ergonomics and aesthetics forming one side of this trend, the other side talks about the physical and mental well-being of the employees. HR Analytics is an objectively-driven trend that plays a key role in ensuring the holistic well-being of all employees. In turn, employees exhibit greater happiness and workplace performance.
Higher attrition rate is no longer considered to be a bad trend. It is a well accepted phenomenon. HR professionals are not complaining about this either. What is your take on this?
Yes what we witness and experience these days are lesser single job spans and the gig economy. Employees now spend substantially lesser time (1-2 years) in a single job as compared to the previous generations (3 years or more). This trend has been well-accepted and endorsed by most HR and OB experts. True loyalty doesn't always amount to longer job spans, and today, organizations are also endorsing alternative work approaches by engaging the rising gig economy of freelancers and other independent professionals.
Is there is subtle or delicate difference between employees' skills and their professional capabilities? What does an organisation prefer in time of recruitment?
There certainly is a difference. Capabilities-based recruitment is the new order. That's the new trend. The HR function has also moved a level up from employee skills to looking at their professional capabilities. This macro-view trend is driven by the fact that employers do well to look at their employee capital in a 360-degree manner instead of just specific skills that the job may demand.
How do you see HR functions evolving in the days to come? What's in store for the HR functionaries, going forward?
I have tried to discuss how the trends of hybrid work, continued education, holistic employee well-being, HR Analytics, the gig economy, career flexibility, and capability-based recruitment are on-the-rise trends in contemporary HR functions and the associated workplaces. All in all, interesting times are ahead for the continuously-evolving HR function to play a more strategic business role and less of a tactical intervention specialist. As we proceed further in the new decade, these trends are likely to get completely established while newer associated trends would also come up in all probability in the near-future.