HR Values and Policies: Navigating the New Era of Work Cultureby Murali Santhanam

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Mr. Murali Santhanam, CHRO of AscentHR, discusses the evolution of HR practices and their critical role in today’s dynamic workplace.

HR values and policies have evolved significantly from mere transactional tasks to strategic business partnerships driving organizational success. As companies face a new era characterized by digital transformation, remote work, and changing employee expectations, the importance of effective HR practices has never been more critical. Mr. Murali Santhanam, CHRO of AscentHR, shares insights on how HR leaders can navigate these changes and implement practices that support both the business and its employees.

The HR field is evolutionary in nature. What started off as a transactional-based function focusing on payroll and benefits administration has now emerged from its traditional silos as a strategic business partner driving business outcomes. Not only has HR as a function transformed, but HR values and policies are also continuously transforming to adapt to the shifts in work culture, particularly in light of recent changes in the workplace landscape.

Today, organisations and HR professionals face a new era characterised by accelerated digital transformation, evolving remote work, and evolving employee expectations. With the hybrid modelemerging as one of the major aspects defining today’s work culture, this article explores some of the steps organisations can adopt while developing and implementing HR values and policies to navigate the new era of work culture. HR leaders and professionals leading and shaping the future of work culture in their organisations might find this article relevant.

For businesses to stay relevant, adapting to market shifts alone is not sufficient. They also need to align with the evolving work culture. Given this context, the importance of HR values and policies cannot be overstated. While several labour and corporate laws exist to establish basic HR policies in place, it also depends on the management and HR leaders to develop additional HR values and policies to bring their practices in line with the new norms.

Beyond compensation and benefits, HR professionals are now tasked with new challenges, such as bringing people back to the office; introducing policies for remote working; addressing issues of inequality; developing monitoring mechanisms to ensure ethics, POSH, and code of conduct; and fostering diversity in the workforce, just to name a few. HR policies around these issues not only promote work-life balance, fairness, safety, and employee engagement within organisations but also can directly impact how an organisation attracts and retains talent.

With rising expectations on the HR function and complex external and internal factors at play, standing as a beacon in the workplace and positioning themselves as strategic partners may seem overwhelming. However, the dynamic interplay between these rising expectations and the ever-evolving external and internal factors is what makes the HR field fluid and contemporary, creating a need for continuous innovation by HR leaders and professionals. Regardless of the complexities involved, HR leaders can always rise up to the occasion and help their companies adapt to new ways of managing and supporting employees.

Here are seven guidelines that HR leaders and professionals can consider while developing and implementing effective people practices, and become a valuable resource for their employees and strategic partners to their organisation.

Stay Updated On Emerging Trends: Keeping abreast of the developments in the HR space is crucial for developing effective HR values and policies. This not only allows HR professionals to gather insights and benchmark against industry standards and peer organisations but also leads to identifying opportunities for improvement and HR innovation. For instance, HR teams can look for examples of successful practices that can be adapted and implemented within their organisation to enhance employee experience.

Assess Current HR Practices: Conduct a detailed review of existing HR values and policies to identify areas for improvement or change. This could begin with examining existing policies, procedures, and practices across various HR functions, including recruitment, onboarding, performance management, employee relations, and diversity and inclusion.

During this assessment, some key aspects to consider include ensuring that the new policy aligns with the organisation’s goals, values, and culture, meets legal compliance requirements and adheres to industry standards.

Engage Relevant Stakeholders: Collaborate with key stakeholders, including senior leadership, managers, and employees from across the organisation to gather input and insights on their needs, preferences, and expectations. Before introducing any policy, it is important to involve relevant stakeholders to get their buy-ins. This should ideally involve employees as well to solicit their feedback to understand their perceptions. Engaging relevant stakeholders ensures that diverse perspectives and insights are considered, leading to a more informed and inclusive decision.

One of the effective ways HR professionals can engage stakeholders effectively is through surveys. Other techniques may include town hall meetings, focus groups, and interviews.

Focus on Employee Well-being: Prioritise employee well-being through initiatives that promote well-being across various dimensions, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial health. Consider offering wellness programs, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and access to financial tools and resources. This is a key aspect for organisations aiming to create a supportive and engaging workplace culture where employees feel valued, engaged, and motivated to perform at their best.

Enhance Communication: Ensure clear and transparent communication of HR values and policies to employees. HR professionals can achieve this through regular updates, training sessions, and resources such as employee handbooks, policy manuals, digital brochures, and online portals to help employees understand the new changes, benefits, programs, and privileges available. Effective HR communication can empower employees to make informed decisions and contribute to a more positive and productive work environment.

Monitor and Evaluate: Enhance or establish mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and compliance of HR values and policies. This can be achieved by leveraging analytics tools or by gathering periodic or impromptu feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and adjustments.

Given the changed workplace landscape today, there are plenty of opportunities to monitor and evolve people practices within the organisation. In fact, if certain policies do not change, they can create loopholes and can affect an organisation adversely.

Adapt and Evolve: Anticipate changes and be agile and responsive to changing business needs, market dynamics, workforce trends, and emerging technologies. Continuously adapt and evolve HR values and policies to ensure such practices remain relevant and effective in supporting organisational success and enhancing employee experience. If required, make adjustments as needed to align with changing dynamics.

Today, employees’ expectations have changed leading to a new era of work culture. This has created a more complex territory that an organisation must walk carefully. Given this scenario, HR has a vital role in expanding an organisation’s potential through effective and meaningful values and policies. That said, bringing a much-needed change through effective HR values and policies has never been more challenging. However, adopting some of these steps into their processes may help HR professionals to enhance their efforts.

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