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Role of Hr and sustainability for firms



Developing Sustainable Human Resource

Archana Verma
Institute of Management Studies, Bundelkhand University, India E-mail : [email protected]



The term sustainable development means different things to different people. But, in essence, it is concerned with meeting the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development therefore involves:   A broad view of social, environmental and economic outcomes; A long-term perspective, concerned with the interests and rights of future generations as well as of people today; An inclusive approach to action, which recognises the need for all people;

give full cooperation to the manager in achieving the target. But those who are in the habit of sharking work. More problematic are those who obstruct the process of work. This type of workers is the biggest headache for the manager because they not only do not work but do not let others work. Handling such difficult employees becomes the most difficult task for the manager. The first impulse, normally, is to get rid of such persons but that is not the solution because what is the surety that the new employee will not be more difficult than this one. Moreover, there is a cost of hiring and training a new employee also involved. Therefore, a wise manager will always try his best to handle difficult employees by using some creative ideas. A successful manager is always able to handle such persons in a positive way and turns them into productive workers. Such managers become a valued asset to an organization and are sought after by other organisations. “We want an organisation made up of inquisitive people, for we are seeking innovation, constant improvements in the way people do their jobs, in all areas of the business. Conducting business as usual does not belong in an inquisitive culture.” The 21st century business leaders have started recognizing the crucial role employees play in driving and delivering sustainable business strategy. Companies are integrating sustainability into corporate culture and fostering “sustainable development capabilities”. But sustainable business strategy is incomplete without developing sustainable human resources. Sustainability means capacity to endure and it is not a movement but a necessity for an inclusive growth. The concept has become significant since 1980s. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability essentially, doing business without harming people or the planet can affect company culture and behavior in many ways, from recruiting and employee engagement initiatives to training, customer interactions and even the business brand and value propositions. Thus, sustainability is emerging as a people issue and, as such, a human resource issue. But HR professionals may not be fully prepared to lead organizational sustainability efforts. From a business perspective, sustainability has been defined as a "company's ability to achieve its business goals and increase long-term shareholder value by integrating economic, environmental and social opportunities into its business strategies" In every company there are persons who do not add much to the work. Many may be, in fact obstructing work being done by others. Modern work place is getting bigger and bigger because of expanding businesses. In such organisations a problem normally faced by managers is: How to deal with those who are not cooperating. There is no problem with those who

ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012


International Journal of Research and Development - A Management Review (IJRDMR)

Antoine Riboud, founder and the former chief executive of world food giant Danone said: “The planet’s resources are limited, but man’s are infinite provided he is sufficiently motivated.” In a highly competitive global economy where the other factors of production--capital, technology, raw materials and information are increasingly able to be duplicated, the calibre of the people will be the only source of sustainable competitive advantage available to those organisations who have adopted strategies to identify potentialities of their employees. Therefore, attention must be paid to and resources must be ploughed into the management of global talent to take the business forward. To do this attention must be paid to several areas, in particular to maximise long-term retention and use of international cadre through career management so that the company can develop a top management team with global experience and to develop effective global management teams. Ensuring that the values of sustainable development permeate throughout the company usually starts at the CEO’s office. However, the best intentions are meaningless if they are lodged in the mind of one individual. Changing a company’s culture and outlook requires a contribution from everyone, working as a team. The requirement of this enlarged responsibility also demands innovative HR professionals. II. HR’s ROLE Sustainable development competencies: The challenge for HR managers is to clarify the competencies required to deliver the company’s strategy, as well as to cope with changing competitive circumstances. Success will depend on identifying the most effective means of building these competencies, whether through formal training programmes, mentoring, peer-to-peer learning, or involvement in community programmes. Amidst this variety of approaches to building employee skills, what then is the value of learning programmes on sustainable development? And who should be the target of these initiatives? With all the talk about the importance of sustainable environmental practices, who knew those same principles, could be applied to human resources. That's just what Kim Glinsky, director of operations for career management services company Lee Hecht Harrison, contends. Here are some suggestions from Glinsky, who says "reduce, reuse, and recycle" makes a handy mantra for trainers: • "Reduce” turnover through retention programs. "Organizations that have a problem with retention

can reduce the costs associated with hiring and training new employees by thinking green," says Glinsky. Determining the root cause of turnover, and implementing solutions that promote organic growth, will improve their workforce environment and prevent further decline. • "Reuse” talent through redeployment and career mobility. Identifying career paths not only promotes retention, it also demonstrates an employer's willingness to invest in its workforce. Offering opportunities to develop individual talents promotes employee engagement while providing the organization with a renewable business resource, Glinsky points out "Leveraging transferable skills and harnessing the power of redeployment is another green strategy that organizations can implement to reduce hiring costs and increase morale." "Recycle" your workforce, using Boomers as mentors and part-time workers. "Taking advantage of potential retirees' knowledge, experience, and interest in part-time schedules can be a perfect mix for a company facing both employment shortages and a tight bottom line," says Glinsky. Implementing programs to help individuals nearing retirement age explore their options also will enhance an employer's ability to retain these workers and minimize exposure to talent shortages.

To meet the demands the HR professionals need to design innovative techniques to identify and source talents, build up responsive training systems to develop requisite skills and to utilise and redeploy existing manpower in an efficient manner. Accessing untapped territories (mid-size towns, college students, and all that, to source talent, tie-ups with educational institutions to design curriculum required for developing the customised skills for the new sectors, new forms of engagements (part time working, project based contracts, and so on) to provide flexibility in employment terms, training systems for multi-skilling of workforce are some of the countless examples of the swiftness with which the HR professionals have innovated and improvised systems and processes to cope with the challenge of maintaining sustainable people development. HR’s role in supporting sustainability is two-fold.   First, it must ensure that a sustainable approach to managing employees is a part of business strategy; Secondly, it must create culture in the organisation where each employee should imbibe the principles of sustainability in every action.
ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012


International Journal of Research and Development - A Management Review (IJRDMR)

HR’s first role is to ensure that a company manages its employees in a sustainable way. The HR department of an organisation can attract creative and talented staffs by offering workplaces that are more participatory, have greater sensitivity to family issues, share more of the wealth, offer more fun, and encourage trust between management and employees. Employees are motivated by a complex mix of rewards. These range from financial security and bonuses to promotion and peer recognition and from taking on new challenges to making a difference to the things they care about. This broader vision of success requires new business tools, practices and relationships. The HR manager need to understand the keys to improved team work, explain the key factor leading to great job satisfaction and should analyse people’s willingness and loyalty potential. It should also facilitate in building team spirit among the members of the team and increase the commitment towards the team. On the other hand, the organisation should also try to reduce complaints and increase the organisational strengths by instilling a sense of belongingness among employees. Being receptive to new ideas and suggestions opens the door to an array of business opportunities to facilitate sustainable business development. Sustainable business development is not likely to be the passing fad. People are finally waking up to the need for organisations that aims at sustainable people development besides monetary profit. So, the organisations should leverage staff relations, stake relations and peer relationships. There can be no sustainable business development without human development. The two go hand in hand, even as conditions change as expectations today are changing of every organisation, whether public and private, has to play an active role to meet the challenges of an ever shifting business paradigm with proactive solutions. Collective action on the part of government and non-government organisations will form DNA of sustainability. This will need a paradigmatic shift in the strategy for tackling challenges pertaining to people, as they are the building blocks of any organisation. Not the same as in the past, with new challenges appearing all the time. To address this challenge there is a need to build a network of business experts to share experience and develop thought on successful sustainable business strategies. This network will build a bridge between sustainable professionals and those that deal with organizational development. National Institute of Personnel Management (NIPM) is making such an attempt to build such a network to focus on such pertinent issues through its 29th Annual Conference. The theme of the conference was “Sustainable People Development: Strategic Issues

and Challenges.” The key Conference objectives are to bring together brilliant minds from government, corporate and academia to share their thought and delve on the upcoming challenges. The focus of discussions was on: • • Understanding the need for focusing on the sustainable people development strategy. Identify key challenges being faced by the corporate and how these can be turned into opportunities. How are HR leaders of highly sustainable firms enabling their organisations to effectively implement sustainability strategies? Which HR practices are most critical to supporting successful sustainability strategies? How is sustainability enhancing HRM practices linked to market and financial successes? Paradigm shift Benchmarking in Performance Excellence

• • • •

Redefining leadership role for a sustainable people development strategy. III. PLANNING FOR CHANGE

Companies must continually enhance their workforces’ skills to respond to the emerging demands of customers, investors and society as a whole – requirements that change with the ways that people live and work. So what does sustainable development mean for HR managers? Several issues stand out. The strategy and tactics adopted must be achievable by the HR team within its budgetary constraints and the skills, experience and interests of its people. But, more than this, the HR strategy must respond to the wider environment in which the company is operating:       Reflecting and inspiring the ambitions of the HR team and other employees; Aligning with the company’s strategy, values and culture; Helping to deliver sustainable returns to investors; Helping to address customer needs; Identifying and responding to emerging societal trends; Responding to governmental and regulatory expectations, and influencing the public policy agenda.
ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012


International Journal of Research and Development - A Management Review (IJRDMR)

You will have your own priorities – issues that reflect the particular objectives and working practices of your company, and other aspects of its competitive and regulatory environment. But to help you get started, some introductory issues and questions relating to some of the core responsibilities of HR managers: recruitment, incentives and competency development needs to be considered. How can the challenges, comments and case studies help to inform the development and implementation of a robust HR strategy – an approach that reflects commercial realities, not to mention the practical challenge of being understood and accepted by people throughout the company? Guidance for the sustainable development manager: As the language of sustainable development enters the business mainstream, the responsibility for managing social and environmental issues is slowly shifting from the corporate fringe to an important business function. Sustainable development specialists (and those with equivalent positions or responsibilities) are no longer just responsible for the management of philanthropic initiatives, community engagement programmes or environmental impact assessments. Instead, in leading companies, these managers are expected to act as agents of change: to develop the structures, systems, and ways of working and personal values that will support the organisation’s sustainable development objectives; and to encourage others in the company to act as enthusiastic agents of change. This functional briefing (and others in the series) clearly doesn’t provide a complete solution – this is the first step in developing a comprehensive business case for functional specialists. However, the briefings do provide a series of questions with which to trigger conversations across your company and influence its future direction. Building aligned and sustainable human resources (“HR”) practices…. ….may seem like a daunting task - it does not have to be. Take a few moments to answer the 5 “W”s”: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Where to start Why bother ? What needs to be done? Who should undertake this? When should we do this? And finally, how should we proceed?

Values. The next best place is to review the employee issues that regularly surface, or, seek your employees input about your current people practices and suggestions for improvement / where to start. Ultimately, the collective perception is reality. 2. Why bother? Aligning your organisation’s people practices with the rest of your business is critical for proper focus and effectiveness of employees to meet business goals. Without alignment you have silos, conflicting priorities, chaos. 3. What needs to be done? Sound basic HR practices are key to effective employment relationships and so powerful when applied well that most organisations don’t need anything else. Neither complicated nor expensive, they include:     Written employment policies: “Game Rules” that address both employee and employer expectations Clear compensation and benefits practices: promote fairness, meet basic employee needs. Proper recruitment processes: get the right person for your organization correctly. Performance management: expectations, measurements organisation’s goals. Trained people managers: bosses not their jobs”. Communication: practices. clarity of to support role, your

 

“People quit their

ensures the success of HR

4. Who should undertake this? A senior leader must champion the establishment of a proper HR infrastructure and ensure its proper implementation. Somebody with HR expertise should develop the people practices, working closely with the champion, so that the structure is built correctly the 1st time. You wouldn’t ask an accountant to do plumbing so why have unqualified people design the people practices that affect the engine of your business: your employees. 5. When should this be done? If you have been operational for several years and have not started to shape the HR infrastructure for your organisation then NOW is the right time to start, even with a small step. Once you begin, however, employees will expect results. Your credibility and employee morale suffer greatly when commitments are unfulfilled, reinforcing the already unspoken message that the employees are not important. 6. How should we proceed? As with the principle that one must learn to walk before running, starting with the basics is the smartest way to proceed. Identify “what is” versus “what should be” and develop a plan and timeline
ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012

1. Where to start? The easiest place is with your organisation’s business plan, its Vision, Mission,


International Journal of Research and Development - A Management Review (IJRDMR)

on how to bridge the gaps starting with a basic foundation. It is easier to build upon a basic foundation as your organisation evolves than to “tear down” people practices that are too cumbersome. IV. CONCLUSION: “Key objective for the future is to motivate employees. It will be necessary to find synergies with everything else going on in the company.” HR Manager, Ashridge/WBCSD survey In order to match the standards of changing global scenarios, HR functions are leveraging everything: the business process, the company data, the talents of their people and the available workforce management practices. Whether it is related to providing a quicker response time to meet changing business needs, extending online communications among the employees, business partners or customers or strengthening compliance with changing legislation, HR function is stepping up to add value in every aspect of the business. For the large and mid-sized organizations that want to utilize business intelligence are adopting alternative methods to move away from purely tactical and administrative tasks and related modes of work. HRO: payroll outsourcing, recruitment process outsourcing, and training outsourcing provides robust and flexible solutions. Initially HR outsourcing was limited to certain discrete services, such as payroll outsourcing or benefit administration and recruitment process outsourcing. However, today companies have started engaging highly specialized HRO services spamming across virtually every HR activity. Following the suit, companies are able to obtain access to higher levels of expertise than those available in-house as well as reduce their costs. Companies are adapting selective approaches while choosing to utilize in-house and outsourced options, depending on what suits the most for their organization. The traditional functions of HRM now need to be strategically directed towards developing and sustaining organizational capabilities, through activities that overlap with traditional business functions such as finance, marketing, and non-traditional activities, such as knowledge management. Human Resource Information System has great significance in every sector. It can play a virtual role and help the communications process in the organization. Most importantly, organizations can hire and retain the top performers, improve productivity and enhance job satisfaction of the employees. HRM has the responsibility to maximize efficiency and profit, but in

the emerging scenario, the role of HR manager is changing rapidly due to changes in government policies, unions, labour legislations and technology. The trends have taken place in the organization, human resource planning, job design, and motivation, recruitment, and skill development and employee relations. The challenges can be faced by HRM effectively, if proper strategies are implemented. Hence, the role of HRM will be more significant in future due to the emerging scenario. The role of the Human Resource Manager is evolving with the change in competitive market environment and the realization that Human Resource Management must play a more strategic role in the success of an organization. Organizations that do not put their emphasis on attracting and retaining talents may find themselves in dire consequences, as their competitors may be outplaying them in the strategic employment of their human resources. With the increase in competition, locally or globally, organizations must become more adaptable, resilient, agile, and customer-focused to succeed. And within this change in environment, the HR professional has to evolve to become a strategic partner, an employee sponsor or advocate, and a change mentor within the organization. In order to succeed, HR must be a business driven function with a thorough understanding of the organization’s big picture and be able to influence key decisions and policies. In general, the focus of today’s HR Manager is on strategic personnel retention and talents development. HR professionals will be coaches, counselors, mentors, and succession planners to help motivate organization’s members and their loyalty. The HR manager will also promote and fight for values, ethics, beliefs, and spirituality within their organizations, especially in the management of workplace diversity.



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ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012


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ISSN (Print): 2319–5479, Volume-1, Issue – 1, 2012


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