HR has the “Seat on the Table” – Are we ready??


By now, almost all the HR Professionals know what “Seat on the Table” means and as I write this, there are already many amongst our fraternity who are already there!!!

“We are probably living in an era where too many things are happening at the same time. While the Technology is disrupting the business models and the demographics of the workforce is itself changing the way we work. In this situation, every organization on this planet is working hard to manage just one equation – Pace of Change in their organization > Pace of change in the external environment”

Almost all the organizations have charted out a strategy for 2020 and now beyond 2020. This strategy defines the “What” of the vision. Another important component is the “Culture” which is “how” of their strategy. In my view, CEO’s look to the expertise of HR fraternity to foster the appropriate People Strategy to enable the business strategy. It would be rhetoric to say that “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” at this time. This clearly gives me the confidence that the CEO’s are today offering the “Seat on the Table” but then HR has to earn their place. This is not as easy as it sounds. Let us have a look at some of the factors around which HR is operating:

1. Business

Almost all the HR professionals have the knowledge of the corporate business in which they are working. However, question is how deep the knowledge is. Can we engage ourselves in a meaningful conversation with the CxO’s and other Senior Business Leaders, the opportunities that are driving the business and the possible barriers that are impeding the growth plans? Are we equipped enough to contribute to this discussion?

2. Technology in which the business operates

Coming to Technology, there are 2 facets to it. One is the current Technology in which the organization is operating in and the second is to understand how the technology is likely to shape in future. What are the developments in the Technology? How does it affect the workforce? This being on one side, the rapid invasion of Digitalization and AI is forcing the organizations to have a look at their processes and adapt to these technologies. While the technology will continue to disrupt the business, this leaves a huge room for HR to contribute to the success of the organization. The question is how much does HR understand these technologies and the implications of the technology on the Human Capital of their organization and drive proactive measures to prepare their organization to be in the leadership position.

3. Policies and Regulation

The Government has been constantly bringing changes to the policies. A successful HR person swiftly works the implication of these policies, sometimes on the financials of the organization, explains the need to the key stakeholders and brings the necessary changes where required. Oftentimes these changes are not clearly explained. It then becomes the responsibility of HR to understand and more importantly take key decisions on implementing these changes.

There are times when the HR is itself not clear on the actions to be taken when such regulations are announced.

4. New realities of the world – Global Talent, Multigen workforce, LGBT, etc

Our workplace comprises of colleagues belonging to multiple generations. While on one side, the Talent is globally mobile which is ensuring that organizations have an international pool of employees, on the other side, the millennials are rapidly assuming Leadership positions. These changes are causing a shift in the way organizations work. As they say, The Future of Work is here. The question arise, is HR ready for it before they can get their organizations ready for it. We do see a lot of posts on Social Forums such as LinkedIn wherein HR Experts and Thought Leaders are discussing this topic and sharing their perspectives almost on a daily basis. These do guide us on dealing with this  situation.

Helping the Managers to create an environment where every employee can understand the above dynamics and give their personal best is a sweet spot for HR.

5. Data Analytics and it’s implication on Core HR processes

Data, as they say is the new Oil. Like in business, what HR can do with the Data is unimaginable. The key here is the ability to combine the scientific and the human aspect of HR to create the right HR processes in the organization. As Employee engagement gives way to Employee Experience, data analytics will be more and more in use and the one who learns it fast will take it all.

While the above list is only indicative, but the times that we are in, I am convinced that this is the era of HR and HR has “Seat on the Table” but it’s not default but has to be earned. Are you ready?

(Views expressed are personal)

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Ranganathan Rajagopalan is currently the HR Business Partner for the Power Generation Business in the Gas and Power Operating Company of Siemens. Ranga has over 2 decades of Experience in HR. Passionate about solving business problems through People Engagement. owly changing to align itself to newer realities and there will soon be time when companies will stop focussing on performance on rating rather they start focussing on being relevant , contextual and contributing to the cause for the organisation exists.



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