The human resources department of an organization and the first, last and lifetime point of contact for any individual interacting with an organization. Even before the individuals join an organization, they are already coordinating their transition with the human resources department of the organization.
It comes as no surprise that this is the department that experiences the most volatility and dynamism for the sole fact that their primary responsibility is the well being of humans forming the organization. One may debate the extent to which the HR Team plays a role in the onboarding, training, and development and overall well being of an organization. But luckily no one ever debates their utility and usefulness. The field of Human resources, more than being a niche, is the development of sensitivity and care while dealing with fellow humans.
In my tenure as the Human (Resources) Wrangler at multiple organizations, I have had multiple interesting encounters that have helped enhance my overall understanding of situations that might be a non-issue for many but enough to cause a rift for a few. Some of them have been pertaining to humans all across the globe i.e. human behavior, thought process, influences, etc. and some have been rather specific to the Indian narrative.
The situation I chose for this post is fairly recent and involves a few individuals who were selected to join our organization. These were students hired from different universities across the state of Gujarat and required to join us on 3 January 2018 in Pune, a city in Maharashtra. Given the fact that it would be their tough jobs and a transition between 2 states usually carries along a lot of cultural and logistical issues.
The city of Pune was hit with political unrest and violent protests on the 3rd of January due to which a Bandh (involuntary) was imposed across the state indicating non-functioning of all institutions and even telephony services in some parts. My heart went out to these individuals about it being their first experience to our home ground and going through of all it alone away from their families. I constantly kept in touch with all 12 joiners throughout the day, shared on the ground updates, police notification and kept information about their well-being. I had been the only person they knew from the organization right from the finding stage to the hiring and actual onboarding and it was my promise they had trusted, that imposed an added sense of responsibility on me for their wellbeing.
Throughout the day I helped them move into their new houses, find eateries around and get things ready for day 0 of their new job. However, when I was just about to call it a day, 1 of the new joiners called me in a troubled tone almost helpless and scared conveying that their tenant has leased the house to someone else and they have nowhere to go. At that point, I could have extended empathy on the situation or suggested to them common solutions like booking websites, etc. so they could get a hotel room.
I certainly knew that’s not what would help! These are young guys with limited access to financial resources coming to a state thousands of kilometers away for their first job. I’m pretty sure they knew that they could book a hotel if they could. At that point, they looked up to me for strength and support. Immediately I sent them my location on WhatsApp and asked them to come over, given the unrest in the vicinity I requested their live location to track the movements while arranging a meal for them. In India, houses aren’t very big despite that we managed to make enough room for all of us. The next day we started the hunt for another house and found something we all loved.
To summarise the experience, in a nutshell, this wasn’t really an HR situation. This was a human situation. Sometimes people don’t want the perfect solution, all they want is your support and commitment that you will see them through the situation. I could’ve looked up all the possible policies in the organization and found the perfect way to help, but it could still not beat the personal touch offered instantaneously. Such incidents earn massive amounts of goodwill for the organization and help inculcate the feeling of trust among their people. Organisations governed primarily through policies, so rigid that they form watertight compartments, soon loose their edge and start to get monotonous/bureaucratic.