“Human Resources Supply Chain” – another crisis facing corporates

Post Covid and the Ukraine crisis, firms across the world have been grappling with the “Supply Chain Crisis” as supplies of key inputs like semiconductors, oil, gas, etc have been affected which has affected the business dynamics.

“Human Resources Supply Chain” – another crisis facing corporates

“Thanks, Ram for your recognition but after a long thought I have decided to quit my job”. That was one of my brightest team member- 23 years old Darryl, throwing the dreaded “resignation” bomb on me after I handed him his letter for a special recognition, retention bonus letter and extension of work from home facility for him. His reasoning was that he and his family didn’t like Mumbai and he never wants to work in Mumbai in the future! Secondly, he felt that if he had to grow professionally, he had to work in the same corporate office with his bosses and not in a sales office like we had in Bengaluru. Hence, he wanted to work in a corporate in Bengaluru and quit from our Mumbai based India`s leading conglomerate!!

Even though somebody like me, who came to Mumbai as a student and made my career here, found this reasoning difficult to fathom, the truth is different today with the latest generation workforces! 

Also Read: Strategy for Sustainable Economic Growth of India through Secured Governance

Recent Trends in Human Resources space 

The last couple of years have seen some interesting trends in the Human Resources (HR) space:

  • Mass resignation wave
  • Debate between work from home (wfh) vs work from office, 
  • Challenges in yanking people from wfh to come back to office 
  • Hot topic today – moonlighting.

Post Covid and the Ukraine crisis, firms across the world have been grappling with the “Supply Chain Crisis” as supplies of key inputs like semiconductors, oil, gas, etc have been affected which has affected the business dynamics. However, businesses must now face the other elephant in the room “Human Resources supply chain” crisis!!

With a high bit of certainty, never has the HR space faced such a challenging situation and importantly this situation is probably once in a lifetime opportunity for HR professionals to redefine and place on a higher pedestal the value brought to the business by HR teams!!

What`s the soft thread behind the new workforce trends like mass resignation and moonlighting?

Mass resignation wave was triggered by people realizing the benefits of working remotely, and hence preferred jobs with remote working options. Also, the toll on mental health during the pandemic, triggered the need for people to shake off the negative effects of their existing jobs and look for other greener pastures outside leading to the wave. 

Moonlighting is a hot topic being debated across India especially in IT companies and has thrown up many interesting issues. Many IT honchos like Rishad Premji of Wipro have spoken openly against moonlighting and have labelled it as cheating! However, the softer thread was that people were essentially looking at a side hustle to diversify their work, create more options in their careers and of course earn some money in the process. 

Hybrid workplace is the way to go 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a strong pitch for hybrid work for the future. As per him, India missed the previous industrial revolutions due to lack of proper ecosystems and mindset. Hence the country should take full advantage of the present revolution in digital technology to leap ahead in the global arena and hybrid working is a part of it. He also says that women workforce participation, which is at a low 25% for India as compared to 48.5% globally, will increase if Indian corporates and organizations adopt hybrid working. 

By encouraging hybrid working, companies can save huge amounts of money due to lesser administration costs like lesser office space, etc. Secondly, in major cities, which face severe traffic congestion and pollution issues like Mumbai, New Delhi, Shanghai, etc, remote working can help reduce traffic congestion as well as reduce carbon footprint as lesser number of people will travel to work. 

While remote working has its own advantages, physical workplace has the benefits of human interaction and informal discussions that promote innovation as well as forge greater workforce bonding. Hybrid working, combines the benefits of both remote and physical workplaces, and hence as per the Indian PM is the way for the future.  

Once the covid pandemic situation was brought under control, many firms opened their offices on a hybrid basis and subsequently to a full time (5days / 9AM- 5PM basis). Employees, who got used to remote working, didn’t want to go back to full time office basis and hence left jobs in companies not offering flexibility on work times. 

Ethical moonlighting is a new workforce trend

New generation of employees think that gone are the days when employees must work 24/7 / 365 days for their full-time jobs and prefer to have side hustles like consulting start-ups, work parttime in another job, etc. This has been branded negatively as “moonlighting”. The counter argument by employees is that firms, when faced with a downturn, don’t think twice before downsizing, cutting jobs and salaries. By doing “ethical moonlighting” – wherein employees don’t have a conflict of interest with their present jobs, if employees are taking care of themselves what wrong with it? Anyway, many CEO`s, Vice Presidents of top companies are on the board of other companies and government committees and if this is ethical, why should “ethical moonlighting’ be termed as cheating? 

Hence some Indian IT companies like Tech Mahindra and Infosys have been forced to come out with “moonlighting “policies but many companies in the core sector like manufacturing, banking, etc are still yet to take such initiatives and hence lose out on good talent.  

“HR supply chain crisis” is the moment to convert HR function to a value-added firm from a support function….

HR function is normally seen as a cost centre and a support activity – to recruit personnel, conduct annual appraisals and training programs, etc. I sincerely believe that the present “HR – supply chain crisis” is a great opportunity for CEO`s and CHRO`s to convert the HR function from a “support activity” to a “value adding” activity.

  • HR professionals in corporates should build a culture with a DNA imbibing “flexibility at work” and “work life balance” as key pillars. Using the same thread, trends like Hybrid working and ethical moonlighting should be a part of every HR team`s dictionary. If productivity of work is maintained through digital tools and there is no conflict of interest in moonlighting, employees should be free to pursue their interests. Many people would remember that IT companies, like Infosys and Wipro in India, became the preferred workplaces, due to the various employee related benefits that they offered like ESOP`s, workplace culture, etc
  • Just like companies’ flash CSR scorecards, share of women employees, etc in their media releases, HR teams should focus on highlighting share of employees working in a hybrid manner which will reflect the flexible working policies of the company. Not very far in the futurea firm’s brand image as well as market valuation can be influenced by the share of hybrid working employees in the total workforce. 
  • Governments and local authorities should encourage hybrid working through regulations and tax breaks due to various benefits to the society like reduced pollution, lower carbon footprint, etc. 

The “Human Resources – Supply Chain crisis” gives a huge opportunity to firms to extract greater value from the HR functions by adopting a flexible approach to workplace. This will help firms in keeping with the latest workplace trends as well as create greater business value for the organization. Will we see a “HR revolution” coming up very soon?? Hopefully yes!!

Ram Narayanan
Ram Narayanan
Ram is a corporate professional with over 24 years of work experience in the metals and chemicals industries in various functions. He has global exposure in business operations having successfully managed challenging assignments globally, especially in Asia – India, China, Taiwan, and Malaysia.  Professionally, his key focus is in crafting and implementing long-term and short-term business strategies and driving operational business performance.

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“Human Resources Supply Chain” – another crisis facing corporates
Post Covid and the Ukraine crisis, firms across the world have been grappling with the “Supply Chain Crisis” as supplies of key inputs like semiconductors, oil, gas, etc have been affected which has affected the business dynamics.
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