Jan 27, 2020

Can "Kindness" be a goal for the HR professional?

Josh Bersin is one of the foremost thinkers of HR in the contemporary world. Having followed him from his HR analyst days, through his firm's acquisition by Deloitte, and now to his newest avatar with the Bersin Academy, whatever Josh thinks about the future of HR, you can be sure that global CHROs will pay attention/

Which is why his article yesterday on "Our new role: Bringing Kindness to Work" made me sit up and take notice.

As Josh says:

People want meaningful jobs, fair pay, transparency, and growth. But most of all, they want kindness. Kindness? What role does that play in a business? It turns out kindness at work has now become fundamental. While inclusion, fair pay, and development remain important, kindness and connection are now essential.
the most important things in our lives are compassion, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, mindfulness, social connection, and awe. These are all human issues, and all revolve around kindness. For me, it was a wake-up call. After two decades of meeting with hundreds of companies, I realized I had never seen these words in company mission statements, competency models or leadership values.
Josh then offers five questions for leaders and HR people to ask themselves to reflect if they are building kind and compassionate workplaces.

Here are my thoughts:

  • "Kindness" is a function of organizational culture and is also shaped by external societal culture of the zeitgeist. The organizational culture is shaped by the personality of the founder/entrepreneur of the organization which translates into what behaviours which are role-modelled by others. 
  • A culture of kindness is also shaped by the culture of the industry. A sales driven competitive culture seeps across most of the companies in that industry as people switch roles within that industry
  • As Josh mentions, looking at hiring people, assessing and then promoting people for how they treat others should be the cornerstone of HR systems and processes.
  • The scary research is that organizational systems of focusing on the short term shareholder gains often reinforce psychopathic behaviors. A search for psychopathic behavior in the workplace will showcase how often senior executives and CEOs who rise up to the top exhibit psychopathtic behaviors. Read this 2004 HBR article, for example/ 
  • While I am glad Josh is throwing light on this very important area, let is not be in the illusion that it is going to be easy to create more kindness in the organization. We have to create new cultures, new role models and new structures and processes to build a kinder and more compassionate workplaces of the future.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in comments section below

Jan 21, 2020

Making it to Rise.Global's list of Top 10 HR Influencers of January

You can find the full list here.

Top 10 HR people to follow in 2020

I was pleasantly surprised when Staffing Software and Applicant Tracking System, iSmartRecruit included me in their list of 10 HR people to follow in 2020

My new year resolution is to get back to blogging in a big way :)

quick guide to build

Recap of the panel on #gigeconomy at the 9th National HR Conference at XLRI

Last weekend I attended the 9th National HR Conference at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

Main poster

On 19th, I moderated a panel discussion on implications for HR in the era of the gig economy. The panelists were author and thought leader Abhijit Bhaduri, Shamita Chatterjee of Infosys, Suresh Tripathi of Tata Steel, Raj Narayan of Titan, Amitav Mukerji of ITC and Arvind Subramanian

Panelists at the HR conference on XLRI campus in Jamshedpur on Saturday

Some views shared by the panelists were:

  1. Gig Economy is a reality, and India is among the top three countries with gig workers
  2. Gig workers were always a reality, but now with certain platforms they can offer their skills across geographies (these are the knowledge based gig workers)
  3. Gig workers come in all varieties: from semi-skilled (like drivers, delivery boys) to master "karigars" (example of master jewellery makers was shared by Mr. Raj Narayan ). Abhijit called these high end gig workers as "gig artists)
  4. Suresh of Tata Steel shared an interesting experiment they were doing, where workers can use 20% of their work time to do an external gig, thereby building additional skills and supplementing their incomes
  5. Gig economy does give rise to a power law, specially in the high skills market, where a few players can corner a high gains than the rest
  6. Abhijit said that maybe we were looking in the wrong place for inspiration. He said that we should be looking at the Indian movie industry where 80% of the workforce is comprised of gig workers. (I had posted something on the same lines 16 years ago)
  7. Shamita of Infosys shared that thanks to fears about cybersecuity and data security, hiring gig workers on IT projects is actually going down.
  8. Amitav of ITC opined that for low skilled gig workers, there will be a new kind of collectivism that will rise. He gave the example of loaders in Maharashtra, known as "mathadis" who are organised under a welfare board, set up in compliance to the Maharashtra Hamal, Mathadi and other unprotected workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Act 1969. 
  9. On a question about the Labour Laws lagging behind the reality of the gig workforce, the members of the panel agreed that the law will evolve and HR leaders have to have a constant dialogue with policy makers and educate them about the new reality
  10. There were concerns from the audience about the lack of a safety net for gig workers and the psychological aspect of not being part of a workforce, as well as the need for constant reskilling to remain relevant. Amitav said there was a business opportunity for companies who could make products like a pension scheme and insurance schemes for gig workers. Support networks for identity and mental health of gig workers were also pointed out as a necessity, especially those gig workers who are subject to the tyranny of algorithms
I might be missing out on some points, but I guess I've covered the big points in this post.

Here's a news item on the conference in The Telegraph 

Jan 9, 2019

Thoughts for 2019

It's been a week and a day since 2019 started. I have mostly been hibernating metaphorically. Mostly because the whole greeting everyone "Happy New year" feels not-quite-genuine

Resolutions are also not my style.

However, I have been reading and ruminating. Here are some thoughts that I think are going to happen in 2019

Benefits and Wellness are going to be big in 2019: This is personal experience . Two Benefits providers have approached me in January which means they are ready to spend money to promote it

Specific HR Tech solutions become more relevant: point solutions offer more details for specific solutions . Which is why many #HRTech solutions will be integrated with the larger suites like Workday , SAP SuccessFactors

Analytics will be front and centre: to take any advantage analytics in HR will need be to be cleaned up and answered.

Talent Acquisition and Learning will lead the way for tech adoption: Recruiting has always been the arrowhead for tech adoption.. they are also been for HR Tech adoption

Jul 13, 2018

Reflecting back on 2018

I learned a lot about myself this year.. mostly about what I failed at.. and my weaknesses. Thankful to those who chose to forgive me. In 2018 I became a real orphan.. My mother passed away in June.. And I have been shunned by my extended family..I think they blame me for her death..
I lost a job.. In fact I left it as I wasn't doing it justice.. and I didn't.. financial trouble has haunted me this year like no other..

While I don't expect an arbitrary change of human calendar due to the new year, hoping against hope that 2019 is so much better than the one that is ending.