The role of HR from the days of personnel function has gone a drastic change over the last few decades. From a support function to a business partner to a strategic partner, the role of HR has definitely evolved over the years. Some of the current and critical issues that today’s HR needs to grapple with are talent management and retention, employee engagement, diversity management, performance management, etc. Out of these, the HR department is proactively involved in the areas of employee engagement and corporate social responsibility in the recent times. Apart from this, there is another area that today’s HR need to be proactively working on is in minimizing workplace negativity.
Today’s global economic scenario is rather uncertain. With a not so stable US market and with an equally crisis prone European market, the world economy continues to have wild swings. In the Indian context, the rupee is falling drastically against the dollar and economic policies do nothing to alleviate the anxiety of the business community. As a result, companies which anticipate lesser business volumes have resorted to giving pink slips to employees. Downsizing and layoffs have become more the norm than the exception in these days of economic turbulence. In such a scenario, the employee morale takes a severe dent and there is a bad feeling accompanying an employee everytime he steps into his office. He is worried about his job security every minute. This is where a HR needs to step in to eliminate workplace negativity. How can the HR do this?
The first step that the human resource department must do is to reassure the employee that his job is safe and he should concentrate on giving his best on the job. Message must be clearly sent across that only the poorest performers need to improve and even if poor performers are identified, they will be given every opportunity to step up before a decision is made on them. Secondly, employees must be sent for training to update their skill sets. An employee being sent for training by the company sends the right message across to the employee that the company is as much concerned about the employee’s long term prospects with the company as much as the employee himself. This will remove any apprehensions that he/she may have regarding his/her job security.
As the saying goes “An idle mind is a Devil’s workshop”. Employees who are not engaged tend to have these negative thoughts thereby affecting the workplace. So it is important for the HR to ensure that employees are motivated, engaged and committed to the work so that such negative thoughts are kept at bay. HR must also be proactive in giving transparent feedback to the employee about his/her performance. This will provide an opportunity for the employee to improve himself/herself. Frequent employee oriented activities organised by the HR provide an opportunity for the employees to socialize with their colleagues and de-stress themselves. These activities contribute towards breeding a positive workplace atmosphere.
Finally, HR must go beyond their call of duty to ensure that employees’ morale is upbeat at all times and more so in times of economic distress. HR must proactively take the mentioned initiatives and do much more to foster a positive work environment without negativity and also an environment where there is trust, cooperation and commitment.