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  • Amit Parmar

HR: Medicine or Vitamin?

HR is one of those functions that is like air, you don’t realize its vitality - until it is taken away or diminished.


CEOs and Boardrooms experienced this firsthand when pre-covid the function was arguably a nice to have - a "vitamin” and quickly turned into a must-have - a "medicine” as business models were disrupted faster than ever and tested the resilience of people and the culture in enterprises.


The resilience elastic stretched so far that we started hearing terms like the “great resignation” “career reprioritization” and “the great reset” - but why?

Yes, burnout is real but at the core, it boils down to how strong the cultural fabric is in retaining people and the personal affinity or belonging people have to go above and beyond - especially in a challenging climate. This is the true reflection of strong leadership and HR functions. There is no engagement survey that will reflect this.


Suddenly, HR functions came into the spotlight and became a “must-have" - a "medicine." A function that historically saw budget pressures for years and stretched thin was simply taken to the edge to respond rapidly. “Do more with less” became “do even more with less” - the rapid disruption in business models and the climate quickly separated the strategic HR functions from mediocre/paper-pusher ones.


What separated the strategic HR functions from the mediocre ones? What can we take forward as learnings? We observed and connected with HR leaders from various industries in the US and here are some highlights of what strategic HR functions did differently:

  1. Supported people's basic needs to be safe and healthy - quickly. E.g. Remote work, masks, virtual assistance programs, and most importantly, figuring out a way to minimize pay cuts, furloughs, and terminations.

  2. Removed non-value-add HR policies and or processes to shift budgets and HR resource time to coach front-line leaders and care for employees with more helplines.

  3. Re-architected how work gets done. Revised organizational structures, job roles, and aligned leadership teams on what "flexibility" means.

  4. Collaborated heavily with legal and communications teams with clarity and purpose. Giving leadership at all levels an understanding of legal boundaries as an employer and keeping in check the lowest level of behavior the enterprise will tolerate. i.e your culture.

  5. Quickly used analytics and insights to identify, protect, retain, and reward their talent in an equitable way.

  6. Double downed on reskilling and upskilling people on how to work in the new distributed delivery models through technology.

  7. Upskilled leaders on engaging remote and distributed teams with a sense of belonging.

  8. Accelerated digitalization to attract and provide real-time insights on the engagement health of the people, and resignation drivers with remediation actions.

  9. Made sure people are celebrated and grow inside the enterprise in an equitable way.

  10. Most importantly - invested time, support, and money into their HR teams.


The HR function has come a long way in getting a seat at the table and now more than ever, CEOs see first-hand the importance of this seat as a medicine versus a vitamin!


Let's connect!


Drop your comments below or reach out to me at amit@cliquify.me and follow me @ HRforLife on Twitter.