HR Failure – A Case Study

An organization has a problem categorised under the HR department. The situation is mapped to the leading and the lagging factors in different areas. The key problem area remains the guideline. Suggestions are made to resolve the situation.

Situation: A Business units, sized small to medium, earns a new project hence increase its headcount. This entails hiring a new HR Manager support to the HR department. The existing team requires leadership capabilities to manage the challenges to be faced during the expansion. Hence an HR Manager is hired from a bigger organization, to deliver in the role and manage the team. This role further includes all the tasks which run parallel to what are practised in the industry. The key performance indicators included managing ramp-up within the time frame, minimising attrition, managing organizational development initiatives, contributing to the existing processes and leading the HR team to better efficiencies. The hiring were done matching fitment to the role. The talent with similar prior experience from a bigger firm was resourced to join in the role. The delivery began with priorities on hiring, followed by initiating new organizational development program. The hiring programs began and the initiatives functioned well showing results.  Suddenly, the situation hit the rock within a month.

Problem: The problem that arose could be classified under three different areas:

  • Attrition: The market changed rapidly with other industries offering higher salaries, for the same business roles which the company employs. This triggered the attrition with the leading factor coupled with the lagging factors within the organization. The organization received higher volume of work with lesser people on board. This increased the stress leading to greater loss in headcount.
  • Compensation: The business unit had an audit which required it to redesign the salary structure cutting benefits and packages for the new hires. The firm did this to maintain the profitability ratio.
  • HR Processes: The HR processes came at a greater halt when the key members in the HR team met with an accident and had to go for an undefined medical sabbatical.

Judgement given to the situation: This was termed as an HR Failure. The HR manager was held responsible for the fiasco and declared a bad hire in the following month.

Suggestion: Here we suggest few solutions to these problems.

  • Attrition: This scenario can be countered by maintaining a talent pool, forecasting the attrite and planning continuous training programs for the employees.  It would be imperative to estimate the loss of talent through early warning signs and landmark the employee strength. This would help in planning the work volume within that duration. For e.g.: If the average duration for a talent spending within the company is 6 months,  the work volume would  required to be managed in an alignment to it. Furthermore planning continuous training program to balance the distribution of skill within the team would lessen the impact of frequent attrition.
  • Compensation: The salary structures for hiring new talent in the market would continue to rise to attract them. This situation can only be countered by offering meaningful benefit in case the current salary levels cannot be increased. Benefit such as loyalty bonus can be considered to be disbursed at the end of 1st, 3rd and 5th year. Certain other non-monetary offering such as training and career progression can be offered. This would require customization at several stages to keep it ahead of the competitors.
  • HR Processes: Scaling up the HR team’s capability with training should have been targeted.  This could have been done through hiring senior external consultant with specialised skills for a definite duration at every fixed interval. The team further required to maintain a back-up of capabilities internally, to shock-proof every change in the environment. Continuity of the process should remain the focus with a constant creation of a buffer talent from other vertical such as Admin.


The company was in the small to medium segment. A small company has to have end-to-end tasks managed by fewer people. The scale and the relevance are quintessential to the delivery of the processes. The existing knowledge in the team had to be transformed from tacit into explicit in order to bridge the skill-gap and manage sudden disappearance of the team members. Consequently performance areas for the HR Manager should have been more focussed on managing challenges within the environment rather than expansion and new initiatives. The time duration to measure performance should have been based on the number of risks mitigated and disasters avoided. These measures would require a defined duration to show results.
A problem may get categorise under a definite department, yet it have contributing factors from every other sources. Hence support from all the vertical would be required to show results. In Edward De Bono’s words “We may need to solve problems not by removing the cause but by designing the way forward even if the cause remains in place. Sometimes the situation is only a problem because it is looked at in a certain way. Looked at in another way, the right course of action may be so obvious that the problem no longer exists.”

Comments are closed.