Raju Foujdar

Role of HR in crisis | Raju Foujdar | Chief Human Resource Officer | AQUALITE INDUSTRIES PVT LTD

Raju FoujdarThe world is in the midst of unprecedented Pandemic Novel Covid-19 crisis which represents a health and safety challenge for the global community and an equally severe economic crisis. The superpowers of World like USA, Germany, Spain, France, China & Italy are struggling to deal with this situation. However, Indian Government has learnt from the global crisis and taken appreciable preventive measures. This is not going to put an end to crisis, but will work as speed breaker/deterrent. International Monitory Fund (IMF) has already predicted the contraction of Global Economy in 2020 as compared to 2.3% GDP growth in 2019 with the US and Europe going in to a recession.  In this scenario, companies are re-looking at their business-plans envisaged prior to Covid-19 and working out alternative plans to combat the upcoming downturn. Business is at stake, due to unprecedented crisis. Some part of financial year going to be impacted by this. It’s like a cricket match. Few maiden overs will increase pressure of rising Run Rate in slog overs. All the organizations have their master blasters to deal with such situation. However, let it be a match or organization – the success or failure depends upon the Best of Teamwork. Master blasters can outperform the competition, by value addition, however rest all have to carry on with their partnering roles to have the required output. Any missing link can be disastrous. Great Teams can achieve required targets even though the circumstances might be adverse.

In this backdrop, the role of HR and strategic interventions by HR are crucial to ensure sustainability of the business and at the same time, ensure that the human resources productivity and costs are optimized. Human Resources play pivotal role in success or failure of the organisation. Today’s HR is not an orthodox HR, but has got active business partnering model. Human capital has catalyst role either to increase or decrease the business outcome of the organization. Successful organizations have tasted success on the wheels of the Human Capital. They need to be handled with utmost care and dignity all the time not just during this crisis.  Morale of employees directly determines customer engagement and in-turn affect business results. It takes a long time to build employer brand. HR need to be very careful, as far as Employer Brand is concerned. Every HR measure should be carefully thought and analysed through the prism of employee, cost-benefit as well as legal framework.


  1. Sensitive Employee Engagement and Communications. Keeping in touch is the best method to stay connected in such crisis. Such sensitive communication should not only cover the employee, but don’t forget to mention about well-being of their families. The HR connect should never be limited to the employee. The good organization always keep employee engagement programs for their families too.
  2. Compensation Rationalisation & Restructuring. Variable component can in increased or introduced. This will be win-win situation for both Employee and Employer. When employee ensures achievement of the target, the organization automatically achieves the desired output. The employees should also understand that they will be given out of profit as part of their PMS. If employees need bigger share, they should supersede the expectations.
  3. Off Site or Work from Home Guidelines: while preparing for such crisis, the HR should be thoughtful to provide the required support by the way of infrastructure. This infrastructure will enable the employees to work from home for desired results. Without proper tools, teams can’t perform and achieve targets.
  4. Use of Technology & Tools for Productivity Enhancement and Management. Whenever, there is situation like work from, the technology is always a boon. This is like added ammunition provided to the warriors. For such support – Information Technology Department should come a step ahead and help the cross functional teams for their smooth working by the way of provision of Modules like SAP/ERP/MIS Tools & various Management systems.
  5. Shutdown period – HR Optimization measures – Payment of salaries/wages for the shutdown period, compensatory working days and off site productivity. All such measures should be within the Laws of the Land. No violation is acceptable.
  6. Partnering for Development (PFD) of identified employees. During the full scale operations, the Managers get less time to focus on such cases. This time is best for concentration and planning to get the best output. Continuous dialogue in such crisis will keep the employees motivated. This will work as Confidence building measure between the employee and line manager. This will improve the relationship and trust between the employee and his/her line manager.
  7. The more we sweat in peace – less we bleed in war. This is saying from the defence forces. Planning for “Extra Ordinary output” to make up the business lost during such crisis. We have seen so many sports personnel practising at their home. They are getting ready for bigger opportunities, which will arise post such crisis. Keeping idle will kill the talent.
  8. Right sizing, Manpower Mapping, optimization plans for the manpower. This period is good to have brainstorming with concerned stakeholders. They will also be relieved of the daily production target pressures and can have a fresh string of ideas & ideology. They can think from fresh perspective and sometimes “Out of Box” ideas emerge. However, if the measure like social distancing etc. are enforced – technology should be used.
  9. Outplacement & Career Transitions, based on need. Retrenchment is not a solution. Crisis period should be used for correct mapping of the Talent. Job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment plans. Concerned employees can be connected through the Technology Platform.
  10. Critical Hiring — take advantage of confusing job market. Targeted vacancies can be filled up by selecting the Best Talent in the job market. In confusing circumstances, there are good chances of getting great talent.
  11. Earn Loyalty of the Employees. Due tough times, when any organization looks after their employees in better way, the employees are indebted by that welfare and care. This helps the employees by continuity of career without change. The best talent sticks to the organization. While the employees are taken care in all times. One a good bonding is established – both parts know that they are made for each other. That’s called “Right Match”.
  12. Online Learning Platforms to be utilized for Capability Development. In crisis period, personal attendance of learning programs might not be feasible. But, this is right time to invest in learning & development. Online learning platform have got vital role to play in enhancing and building people capability.
  13. Other significant areas based on industry and specific business needs.



  1. Availability of skilled manpower & required manpower to operate smoothly. This is faced for both White Collar and Blue collar.
  2. Costing of skilled manpower can be higher due to scarcity of skilled manpower in the market.
  3. Operations have their urgencies of manpower to meet their production and service targets for both internal and external stakeholders.
  4. Manpower migrates to their hometowns/villages. They might decide to stay back at their home place till urcentaintity is over. Because, wages might not mean much to them during uncertain times.
  5. Topline and bottom-line of the organization P&L. Because after Raw Material – HR cost is second highest cost for any organization. Bottom-line can be badly hit due to increase in cost of manufacturing.
  6. We need to comply with all Govt. compliances and regulations. During Novel Covid19, the Govt. has advised on to lay off anyone from the organization and no deduction of salary and wages. When there is no business, this is going to hit on Bottom-line of the organizations.


HR Professionals are the most smart resource in any organization. They hold nerves of the business and should always behave as “Business Partners” not just orthodox HR. Understanding of Business is most important. This is matter of enjoyment – if HR adds value. Then it’s sign of Growth & Business Development. We should think of having higher HR Cost, but equally should have higher sales turn over to celebrate it. Post this Corona scare, what I expect from my team is  as follows:-

  1. Know where we are going : We need to support the business operations for smooth working. Skilled manpower to be provided. What we need to do during this lockdown – to have working of actual people required to operate. Manpower optimization is Main Mantra.
  2. Know where organization stands: Study of Competitors becomes more important. Benchmarking with respect to competitors should be understood and mapped with our internal study of operating model and business requirements.
  3. Know – when to act and how to act: Manpower mapping should be carried out immediately on opening. We carry on getting the requests for manpower addition. We need to understand – what is need of those resources and whether that will meet our requirements. Whether the demand is justified or to have comfort zone for concerned department? Are we adding headcount to protect inefficiencies in the system? Sometimes, we add more inefficient employees and they don’t deliver required output. We carry on adding number – not realizing that this will have adverse effect on the organization health. If you have identified such inefficient resources at your site – please share confidentially.
  4. Convince all stakeholders: If we have understood that certain work can be carried out with certain numbers, we should have logic to convince our stakeholders. We can have mapping from our competitors for same work.
  5. Ensure Business Outcome: Helping and partnering with business is our Prime Responsibility.

To conclude – HR paradigm has drastically changed in previous few years. It’s not operating as Orthodox as in 90s. Now HR has got totally partnering role. HR is considered as frontline stakeholder in 21st Century. HR should prove it’s worth and should add value to it’s responsibility as frontline of Business and not just enabling functions anymore. The role of HR becomes critical in the times of crisis. HR should evidence it’s worth for in VUCA Times.

3 thoughts on “Role of HR in crisis | Raju Foujdar | Chief Human Resource Officer | AQUALITE INDUSTRIES PVT LTD

  1. Rightly said the world will be different post covid-19 and would require a proactive approach from HR. The competacy mapping would enable the dead wood to be laid off and invoke skill based competition to incentivise the better ones.

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