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Exploring the third generation of HR
Chaitali Mukherjee (Country Manger, Right Management, Manpower Group) writes on the trends of today and tomorrow describing how workplaces are changing and how HR can play an instrumental role in the whole process
Issue Date - 01/07/2012
The age-old rhyme, ‘work while you work, and play while you play, that is the way to be happy and gay’ has perhaps set the context of how we grew up looking at our lives.

These days a workplace has strict working hours that includes a mix of work with play. With the advent of multi-generational workforce, the workplace today has a completely new definition and technological advances have smoothened the work to a large extent. Asking for flexibility in work timings without offering flexibility in the work culture would definitely lead to a ‘I win and you lose’ situation, which could be detrimental in attracting talent. These days, every conversation at the leadership level hints at a variety of issues related to people and challenges of employee management and retention. So the very first question that arises here is what could be the right trends to accede to and what not to. So I take a simplistic approach to explain what are the needs of an organisation and what is done to meet them.

Multiple researches have proven that the reasons that encourage an employee to get into a system may not be necessarily the same for his continuation in the system and so the need to focus on both, talent attraction and retention, is important.

Employee’s requirements should be an important factor to govern the workplace dynamics and choice of workplace trends rather than following what is in vogue. This means that as an HR the need to understand how unique its workforce is essential.

The HR fraternity seems to be divided into the hard side and the soft side and a common notion is that one follows the other. Usually the soft side is successful only if all the systems and processes are in place. A lot of entrepreneurial firms tend to believe that managing the soft side of HR can compensate for the lack of the hard side.

The hard side is categorised as the first generation of HR transformation, while the soft side as the second generation. Any one of the two in isolation will not be able to give the desired results and so there is a need for coexistence of both of them.

In fact, the real trend today, which goes beyond the two generations of the HR transformation is the need to shift focus on workforce segmentation and adopt a differentiated plan to align the HR strategy with that of the business. This, indeed, is the third generation of HR transformation, for which the former two generations become the levers. The third generation (3G) of talent and HR transformation would mean the following:
Differentiating talent for transformation: It implies that the organisation will need to be innovative and agile to come up with different strategies for its workforce. The diversity in talent is because of its performance and potential, age factor (multi-generational), work style preferences (permanent, part-time or flexitime), varied background (race, nationality, education or work experience), preference for kind of work and different learning style and career path.

Differentiating HR practices for different talent: This means that for each of talent types that you define in your organisation, you may need to adopt different HR processes, policies, practices, including differentiated learning and development practices making the first and second generation of HR and talent transformation practices levers to meeting the differentiated talent’s engagement. The engagement requirements of the talent will be beyond the obvious because of the differentiation and, hence the quality of responses as well as the response time will have to be different.

Innovation and flexibility in thought: With a varied talent comes the need for revision in strategy every two to three years because of the fast changing talent dynamics. The talent demand and supply along with their demands will change much quickly than we can anticipate, and hence, the ability to not get obsessed with what we have created will be extremely important.

While organisations today are discussing the ways to leverage social media, there are organisations which are well past that and have reached the ‘bring your own device (BYOD)’ concept that completely negates the need to allow access to social media. In fact, implementing a concept like BYOD completely turns the table and puts the onus of accountability on the employee rather than the employer.

Agility in implementation: Though the speed for innovation and flexibility is important, real agility is required in implementing them. Often, a lot of organisations have great ideas that are never implemented because of the lack of agility.

The bottomline for any business to succeed is that the talent is going to have the last say. Hence, the need to have the thinking, strategy, processes and practices that aligns to this state of talent dynamism is the real trend. This trend is going to be here for good because it demands a change in our thinking and approach, which would mean to seek and follow new trends and HR needs to create its own.
Sayani Sinha Roy           

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