Responsible HR depends on good governance

GREATER ROLE

Responsible HR depends on good governance

HR Professionals’ Day was celebrated on January 25, 2011, at Hotel Ashok, Bangalore. This is an annual feature and is held every year jointly by five HR professional bodies which include HR Professionals and members of National Institute of Personnel Management, National HRD Network, and Indian Society of Training & Development, Karnataka Association of Professional Social Workers and IT HR Association. The programme was attended by a large number of people, who came to listen to the chief guest of the programme, who was none other than a strong crusader against corruption, Karnataka State Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde. He was to address the members on the theme, “Corporate Governance-HR Perspective”.

The topic was introduced by a senior, respected HR professional, National NIPM past chairman D R Nagaraj. He mentioned about the corruption in the country and how it has made inroads into the HR profession too and was concerned about corruption in Recruitment and other areas, wherein few HR professionals are becoming part of the corruption network. He expressed his helplessness, but he was upset about the bad breath circulating around HR professionals. He concluded his speech by putting clear expectation. The members aptly heard the tall personality. Santosh Hegde throughout his speech touched upon the roots of corruption, why educated people are not voting, how governance in government departments is collapsing, how common people are suffering, his struggle to fight the corruption within the limited powers and so on.

His speech did not touch corporate governance and its link to the HR profession. Is it not the right time to look into some aspects of corruption happening through HR function? 

In my last 30 years in the HR profession, this aspect was never discussed openly in HR Fora. Not all, but few HR professionals are bent on making quick bucks in whatever way it may be. In public sectors, the corruption starts in recruitment and it has spread its tentacles in confirmation of probationers, transfer, promotion, while engaging service providers, etc. In earlier days, the corruption in private sector was never heard in HR department particularly. Today, it is spread in all sectors.

Recruitment & Selection

Recruitment is one of the main functions in HR. In Recruitment, corruption can take place in many ways. Candidates offer money and gifts to HR professionals and other selection committee members in both private and public sectors. Today, placement agencies are making huge money in recruitment business. The corruption starts at the enrolment of placement agencies in private sectors. It is easy for HR professionals to induct somebody of their choice and money is easily is exchanged.
HR professionals are the decision makers for releasing recruitment advertisements in news papers. The advertisement agencies may offer commission for getting the orders for advertisements. Outsourcing has grown itself as an industry within the domain of recruitment. This is where, the large transaction happens regularly. Anyway, it is very difficult to catch the culprits red-handed.  

Many more transactions may be taking place in the dark and the question remains how to prevent them and to ward off their ill-effects which may befall an organisation. How does an employee who is victim to this vicious circle feel and what will be his opinion about such organisations? It is sure that the attitude, anger, disillusionment of the candidate will have a bearing on morale and productivity.

Employees who enter the organisation in such a way will always be trouble creators or will have rebellious approach. Will the HR professionals get respect?

Service providers

This is one of the critical areas every organisation has to bring total control and adopt full proof system to hire service providers such as transportation, canteen, security, housekeeping, etc. Along with ability and credibility, the contractors should have integrity. Organisations need to verify the past and do due diligence. Few organisations put forth the condition that the contractors should adopt the values of the organisation and the quality systems. To a great extent, such an approach will help in making the service provider become part of the organisational vision.

Organisations do impart training to all the service providers and their employees to follow the ethical practices in all their dealings. HR professionals have a greater role, to become torch bearers for transparent transactions and walk the talk by their actions. The new age HR professionals have a bigger stake in the upkeep of their reputations and make great career.

Training & Development    

Training is another important function within the HR domain. Training on technical, management development, soft skills, legal & commercial aspects are imparted to large population. Organisations may not have all the competencies and these days outsourcing of training is very common in most industries such as IT, BPO, retail, banking and insurance etc.

Many training organisations have come up, besides retired professionals who have also become freelance trainers. Training function has created many jobs on full time and part time basis. Wherever transparency is maintained while awarding training contract or engaging trainers has not lead to corruption.

In few public sectors the training contract is offered based on fixed professional fee and there is no scope for bargain and it is presumed that the transactions are open and transparent. While engaging trainers whether competence of training company and trainer are done professionally is a question to be pondered over. When training contract is awarded to friends, relatives or doing favor to a known company will lead to doubt and fishy transaction may happen. When large scale training happens, the trainers need to maintain quality, deliver agreed number of hours of training and provide good study material. Any deviation or short fall in any of these things will give raise to doubts about contract.

HR professionals need to play a major role in selecting a right training partner to deliver the required inputs to the employees. Any aspiration to make personal gain by awarding training contract will not only create bad reputation and will have a major impact on the organisation’s business.

There is no foolproof method for selecting the training partner. Each organisation has to evolve a policy for selecting the training partners. The selection of training partner should not be left to a single department. The CEO or head of the organisation needs to verify the selection process of the training companies and trainers.  

Blame comes on all parties concerned such as placement agencies, trainers and service providers. It is a known fact that givers and takers together will bring the corruption on the table or under the table. It is too difficult to pinpoint and catch the parties red-handed involved in such transactions. We do not know whether the parties involved are in large numbers or in small numbers. There may be many more areas which need to be examined or watched. Let us wish that the large number of HR professionals and service providers are above the board and fall in a group where good value system is adhered. 

Recently, former President A P J Abdul Kalam said in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Dubai: “Corruption is a cancer-like situation engulfing India’s political-bureaucratic-judicial system, requiring an urgent chemotherapy.” We have been talking about corporate governance. Year after year, we find new scams at the top level or the entire organisation is involved.

HR is one function, which touches each and every person in an organisation. The HRs are the first to meet the new candidates and it is they who will be with employees at the time of separation. The impression what they create in the first meeting with employees has a major impact. They talk more loudly on vision and mission statements. All their talks, behaviour, actions are watched and assessed daily by all employees.

Morale and motivation depends on the ethical practices and healthy working environment the organisation provides to employees. Time has come for the HR professionals to introspect whether their actions fall in line with the good value system which is free of corruption. Show the world that Human Resource professionals stand high for human values, to uphold the dignity and respect of people. HR professional bodies should start addressing the HR community more regularly and bring credibility to the profession.  

(The writer is Management Consultant & Trainer, email: bhima26@yahoo.co.in)

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