Money is important, but not as much as we’re led to believe

  • Strictly Business

Oct 16, 2017-Upon graduating, Amit Sharma started his career as a management trainee at Laxmi Bank in 2006. After an on-the-job orientation and working in a newly set up ‘Work Force Remittance’ unit for a few months, Sharma moved to the Human Resources department through an internal vacancy. For the past nine years, Sharma has held the position of the department head at the bank. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Sharma talks about attributes that all HR leaders must possess and some of his management mantras. Excerpts: 

What kind of issues do HR departments come across regularly and what are the keys to overcoming such challenges?

Finding right talent for the right job in the organisation is of utmost importance. In addition, developing these talents so that they perform to their potential and ensuring that these people are happy while they stay with us are the major challenge for the HR department. Personally, I find it more challenging when it comes to designing performance management and reward system that helps in retaining ‘performers’. 

Primarily, HR professionals act as a bridge between the organisation and its employees. Therefore, HR department has to have a right balance between organisational goals and employee engagement. So, balancing these goals are also major challenges for professionals like us. The main key to overcoming such challenge is to think in the line of the organisation, as well as from the perspective of employees and to strike the right balance.

What can HR departments do to minimise conflicts at a workplace?

We can minimise conflicts at work, but it is impossible to rule out all of them. So, we all should strive to create a workplace where people feel that they are growing personally as well as professionally.  As an employer, it is extremely important to take care of the needs of the employees because nowadays the salary and benefits pale in front of personal growth and actualisation. Employees now prefer quality to quantity. Employee’s state of mind and their satisfaction level needs to be given the utmost importance. An employee needs to feel safe and protected by their employers.

What are the keys to becoming a high-performing HR professional?

In my opinion, a high performing HR professional should understand business well so that he/she can align HR practices and policies in such a way that it benefits both the organisation (in terms of financial and non- financial goals) as well as provide adequate returns to the key stakeholders, like employees. A high-performing HR professional should be a good listener, he/she needs to have great people skills and have different ways of communicating. To top it all, the HR professional need to have a positive attitude, maintain a certain confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal.

As an HR manager, what do you feel are the keys to keeping employees in big organisations motivated?

Employee motivation is quite a complex issue and it depends on various factors like economic state of the country, the earning capacity of the organisation, leadership style of top management, workplace innovation, work-life balance, compensation and benefits, etc. If you talk about the Nepali context, several studies have shown that adequate compensation is the top most motivator, followed by growth opportunities. To retain employees at work, the HR manager should aspire to build ownership among the employees--employees should be trusted and should be left in their creative, productive space. If an employer keeps nagging their employees, it’s certain that they will not feel fulfilled. Also, good communication skill is a must. If you communicate clearly and directly to your employees, you leave no space for complaints. 

If we assume that big organisation adequately compensate their employees, then it is the learning and development opportunities that keep employees motivated. Based on my experience, I have even realised that people get motivated if they can pursue their interest and hobbies at the workplace. That’s one reason why we have an in-house rock band at Laxmi Bank. People should feel happy and respected at work.

What are some attributes that all HR leaders must possess? What mantras should they abide by?

As mentioned earlier, HR leaders can perform well if they understand the business. They also need to be assertive and logical when presenting employees’ perspectives to the management. If a manager is an efficient leader, the working environment will be smooth; otherwise the organisation’s hard work can go down in drain. Hence, HR leader must be able to communicate to the top management about how the organisation can benefit from ‘happy employees’. HR managers should abide by the mantra—‘Understand Your Business and Understand Your People’.

How important are monetary benefits in keeping employees motivated? What are other ways to retain and motivate employees?

Monetary benefit is still the number one motivator for most of the organisations in Nepal. However, money is not only the motivating factor for the employees. How can you work in a company, if you have an intolerable boss and colleagues? Psychological state matters more than monetary state.  I have seen many people foregoing lucrative compensation in order to work for good company and a good boss.

Other ways to motivate employees would be to create a workplace where your employees feel good about their work. It may boil down to simple measures like allowing flexibility in office timings, rewarding creativity and social engagement. Moreover, respecting employees as individuals also works wonder.

Further, you may be surprised to hear that people love to work for the boss who uses humour in his/her dealings as opposed the bosses who appear to be ‘cold’ in interpersonal communication.

Published: 16-10-2017 09:20

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