The Key to Change – Your HR Policies


Every organisation has something to boast about. It could be their retention rate, for some, it could be their training programmes or even the company mascot. But for most organisations it is their policies they take pride in as they know that the reason most of their employees are still sticking around in the organisation is because of a policy. However, with the changing times, some of the old policies have failed to excite job seekers and organisations are now seeing them as a ‘burden’; as HR policies too were devised for a certain time period, and they need to be overhauled from time to time to yield maximum results.

Productivity matters

Any policy is considered to be a success if the organisation reaps the benefits and so do the employees. And after a certain period of time, organisations need to figure out if the ‘star’ HR initiative is still reaping the desired results as it was when conceptualized? It is a mixed bag as some of the benefits still yield rich returns and build strong retention linkages.

In some cases certain programmes have delivered the goods while in certain other cases they have not. These programmes have been designed as retention and attraction tools. However, that is precisely the reason why they have now started to become unpopular. Professionals nowadays are highly discerning and in today’s buoyant times need more than the mere ‘lure of the lucre’ to attract them to an organisation or to be retained by one.

Wrong turn

It is a documented fact that certain HR policies do not do any good to the employees and the organisation as they were initially initiated for. In most organisations, there is a sense of complacency after such programs were introduced. Management was lulled into a false notion of safety since most schemes such as ESOPs etc. ensured a lock in period for the employee. Thus, the means became the end. Instead of being a support tool for rewarding employees, it was soon transformed into the ‘main weapon’ to address employee dissatisfaction and attrition. This is where the problem started as organisations started to grow exponentially, the employee benefits soon transformed themselves into symbols of power and an acknowledgement of one’s position within the company. This factor perhaps created more problems than it could solve. Over time, inequality of distribution of benefits actually fueled employee dissatisfaction rather than addressing it.

ESOPs were okay until they were also used as performance incentives. Retention bonuses were always going to be a double edged sword since they also indicated the relative importance of certain employees to the organisation. Basically, any mechanism to address the disgruntled employee was basically going to make other ‘happy’ employees – ‘unhappy’. Any move to retain was viewed as a ‘soft move’ by the organisation and over time the organisation was itself viewed as going soft on ‘aggrieved employees’.

Another example could be of ‘signing bonuses’, which has been used to attract talent but does not always work in the companies’ favour. It was one of the innovations devised but has to be paid back if the employee quits within a stipulated time. Thus, it also acts as a retention tool. However, the perception is that sign-on bonus is an instant solution but they don’t buy loyalty. Many times they cause an additional turn-over within the industry and can cause resentment amongst employees at various levels.

The right moves

So what can be the possible solution to this grave issue?

Companies should be very clear who is their talent community and understand the psychological, social and demographic factors that make a highly engaged employee. A company in the BPO sector has a much younger population than a manufacturing company. The benefits package for different age-groups must be different and according to the industry.

In the US, companies are segmenting their offerings to their employees. Younger people buy different health package than the employees in mid 40s and it is the organisation they are working for which offers these different packages. HR practitioners are getting convinced that a general purpose benefits strategy does not give the required solution as organisations need a bouquet of retention benefits programs and recognise that every employee’s need varies with time and specific situations and they need to take into account their problems and personal priorities.

Formation of insight groups in the HR will be of great help in devising better policies. In many companies Insight Group consists of HR executives who are plugged into the social fabric of the techie community and HR blog, which captures the buzz and expectations in the workplace.

HR needs to understand that the policies need to be tweaked upon on a regular basis to keep the productivity and engagement high. A lot more personal and segmented policies are the need of the hour and HR must act fast to avert the dangers of attrition and have a happy workforce.