The changing role of Human Resources Management

By Priya Chetty on September 23, 2011

Because the business world is changing, the role of HR must change. Once HR departments   were considered as ‘‘mechanical’’ agents, helping the organization to hire and fire (and possibly train) employees. The HR department was an administrative necessity but little more. Over the last 20 years, the importance of a highly skilled, well-motivated, flexible workforce has become clear. HR departments are now expected to ‘‘add value’’ to the organization –not simply incur cost. Ulrich (1998) has suggested four ways for HR to deliver organizational excellence:

  • Partner with senior and line managers to move planning from the conference room to the marketplace.
  • In order to deliver efficiency to reduce costs and yet maintain quality, become an expert in the way work is organized and executed.
  • Become a champion for employees while working to increase employee contributions, specifically commitment and ability to deliver results.
  • Become an agent of continuous transformation, shaping processes and a culture that will improve an organization’s capacity for change.

This makes the HR department much more than ‘‘policy police’’ and regulatory ‘‘watchdog’’. Even more advanced and empowered HR departments may only oversee recruitment, manage training and development programs, and design initiatives to increase workplace diversity. This is not what is required of modern HR professionals. They must form partnerships with operating managers to rethink and reconfigure the HR function and become committed to outcomes. Line managers are answerable to the shareholders to create economic value; the customers for product or service value; and the employees for creating workplace value. HR managers must be part of this ‘‘agreement’’.


Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).