POLICY CHALLENGES for HR - ROLE of DIVERSITY
by: Ashit K. Sarkar ([email protected])
Cell: 9972012382 Ashit's Articles: http://ashitsarkarsarticles.yolasite.com/
It is always the endeavor of any HR team to provide for best-suited strategies to meet the many different goals necessary to achieve the organizational objectives, which often vary with time, and sometimes change depending on circumstances. Diversity is often not given sufficient attention, but at times play as an important part in determining a better strategy for advantage in some areas.
This topic is discussed here – which could act as a simple guide check-list for considering – in addition to so many other priorities that HR has to consider. The article also includes other aspects (not exhaustively), where diversity may not play any part or has a minor role – more as a part of broader discussions, since they collectively form important aspects of primary HR responsibilities.
- SELECTION & RECRUITMENT: This being the basic starting point, it requires a very careful consideration of several factors, many being obvious (that all positions are manned by competent and motivated employees – which itself requires planned actions), but some areas may require carefully considered policy decisions. Some obvious ones being:
(1) The existing manpower for required positions, both required and any shortages – including for the future (Manpower Planning), and the skills or qualifications required for each position;
(2) Competency potential of existing staff to meet the requirements for their positions, both at present, and also for the gaps, including future openings anticipated;
(3) Training and development plans to upgrade needed capabilities, wherever short, or for future positions;
(4) The skill &/or experience needed for present or future recruitment to meet the shortages or anticipated requirements – after providing for turnovers/retirements etc especially for key positions;
(5) Identifying suitable recruitment sources, and costs involved.
Assuming the above is well planned and cared for, many other issues need some careful consideration:
(1) AGE DIVERSITY: An essential requirement that may not often be given its due importance and attention, both for lower skilled staff, as well as for senior positions. One has to realize that it is necessary that there must be a fair distribution of employees by age, as otherwise serious problems will happen later with large numbers retiring together, and creating a big hollow in experienced employees simultaneously. Further, for motivational purposes too, age dispersion is desirable that provides, or is seen as, future opportunities by the employees. Most often, a very large number of employees join having similar age when starting the organization, and therefore over the years HR must ensure that the age profile at different levels or positions gets dispersed during the later years whilst expanding or recruiting. This data analysis is often ignored, but is an absolute must for different levels that require pro-active actions to avoid future large-scale gaps.
(2) DIVERSITY by LANGUAGE, HOMETOWN or STATE: These need to be considered carefully to suit future expansion or diversification plans or other needs. It is generally a good plan to have a fair diversity spread.
(3) AGE, GENDER or FAMILY STATUS: Another important area that requires care and to ensure that during selection and service equal treatment is meted out to all, and legal requirements are carefully met. Diversity consideration during selection process could be a useful tool.
(4) CASTE, RACE or RELIGION: These factors can be important, and must be well thought out. Policies must be in line with legal & social requirements, and all anti-discrimination laws must be carefully observed. Here too, diversity is generally desirable.
o TRANSFER POLICY: Here diversity may play a useful role, as it may be easier to transfer employees without a family, or non-locals, or those wanting to move to preferred locations. Humane policies are necessary for those with family. Consideration may relate to spouse's job, children's education, dependants, health or family circumstances etc.
Diversity has little or very limited role for the following important HR areas:
o DEVELOPING MOTIVATION & RETENTION of KEY EMPLOYEES: This is a vital ultimate objective & task of HR, which requires careful attention and action on many different aspects for achievement.
o SALARY/COMPENSATION POLICIES: Whilst there must not be any discrimination in general, but the rewarding and promotion policies should be open and positive, that encourages employee performance and results, besides helping in capability and competence building.
o APPRAISAL, TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT PLANS: These vital key topics will continue to require care and must be practiced without any bias. The appraisal system should be open and also be broadly acceptable to the employees that seem to be fair and impartial. Similarly, the T & D should be supportive and need based These will depend on the training needs recognized, and the budgets available for carrying them out both within or outside to be cost effective. These will motivate employees to perform better as teams or individually.
o WELFARE & INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: Management of these vital areas well is an essential HR responsibility in particular, and also that of all managers, that require much planning & execution.
o CHANGE MANAGEMENT: An essential responsibility that requires good knowledge of the organization as a whole and the ability to help others in understanding and accepting the needed or decided changes.
To sum up, whilst diversity may not always be useful for some factors, it should not be ignored. The advantages or disadvantages should be considered carefully during policy and action planning stages.