The Anchor: 5 things that tell you this is the Hour of HR

22 Dec,2011

By Gaurav Hirey


#1 The changing industry

The media planning and buying industry is a new industry for HR. Managing people in this industry has been highly difficult and challenging. There are still people and skill shortages, structures are still being created and talented people are in short supply.


#2 Gen Y on the march

A generation of employees who were pampered by their Baby Boomer parents have now taken our workplaces by storm. Their numbers have jumped from previous years and are growing every year. They bring pluses and minuses to our workplace. So, not only are we trying to absorb these offspring of the Baby Boomer generation, who bring special challenges, but we are also dealing with helping three generations of employees who are happily co-existing to serve our customers as a team.


#3 Recruiting and networking online

This decade has brought about the transformation of employee recruiting and social and media interaction and networking. From the big job boards like Monster we have seen a transformation in how people find each other for networking and jobs.


Social media networking is the new way to find employees, find jobs, get answers to questions, build a widespread, mutually supportive network of contacts, and keep track of colleagues and friends. Social media and online recruiting bring the employer new challenges. Developing social media and blogging policies, deciding whether to monitor employee time online, and checking candidate backgrounds online, are just some of the things that we have started doing. The power of online media is something that cannot be ignored by HR.


#4 Made-to-order employment relationships

Perhaps it’s the push from the Gen Ys, and definitely it’s the availability of technology that facilitates the customization, but the made-to-order work relationship has become a dominant force for us in GroupM. Customized talent initiatives have taken workplaces by storm.


Flexible anything has now become the new norm. Flexible work hours, flexible work weeks, flexible time off for appointments, and the most important trend of all: Paid time off which allows employees to take time off when they need it, as it consolidates sick leave, personal time, and vacation time into a bank of days for employees to use.


As employers we don’t need to police employee time but this demands increase openness in the new way of working. We have had to make work and communication more transparent and measurable so the flexibility yields results. Our employees are more motivated and engaged, and less stressed out about family and life issues, because they have the necessary time to address work-life balance issues.


#5 The Big Blur

Online, all the time, and availability via technology, has blurred the line between work and home. Employees work at home in the evening on collaborative reports and email. They shop at work and take brief breaks by playing online games. Employees do their banking at work and their work accounting at home. Almost no one goes on vacation without their smartphone and laptop. Instant messaging is now a part of our lives!


No generation has ever been this connected, and for good and bad, some employees never stop working. As employers we need to make sure this degree of connectivity does not burn them out. At the same time we too must back away from old rules about what an employee is allowed to do at work. Our policies and processes need to reflect this and that in itself is a challenge.


Gaurav Hirey is HR Director – South Asia at GroupM.

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