'Over the years, NHPC has energised itself as India's top hydropower player'
NHPC Director (Personnel) N K Jain outlines his vision for the company in an exclusive interview with Millennium Post
In your opinion, how has the HR Department evolved over the years?
For years, the Human Resources (HR) department has held together the structure and functioning of an organization by managing its most crucial resource –employees. Of course, it has often been held back by the archaic practices of ensuring compliance and record-keeping and has very often been overtly related to the canteen and office cleanliness. As with any other function, HR too has evolved over the years, gradually changing into technology-enabled mode.
In this decade alone, HR technology has witnessed a tumultuous trajectory influenced by technological changes. Digitization, tech-enabled learning and a heightened appreciation of the role of HR has transformed HR as we knew it, which has now metamorphosed into employee management along with learning and development function. In NHPC a lot of HR functions are now ERP enabled, which has made record keeping easier and efficient and has also made several benefits and services for the employees easier to access.
You've been a part of the HR community for long, how important is it for HR to reinvent itself for the organisation to reinvent itself ?
In current times, organizations operate in a complex business environment which throws up numerous challenges at various levels. There is a need for the human resource function to play a critical role in helping organizations navigate through the various transitions it goes through to maintain its leadership position. In order to play this role, HR will have to increase its real and perceived value. Over the years HR has moved beyond personnel management, routine activities such as the administration of payroll and benefits to a more pivotal role such as developing people strategy and supporting the organization's business goals. HR has to hold itself accountable for driving the business.
Take for example the power sector in which NHPC operates. The organisation has diversified into other power generation avenues like renewable and coal, with hydropower being its core competency. Considering this it has to recruit and sustain manpower which the requisite skills. It is also a time when a large number of our staff (workmen) are retiring. This manforce once used to be the backbone of NHPC about 3-4 decades ago when its early projects were being constructed departmentally. With time the business scenario has changed where the work profile of this employee category became less relevant. HR has understood this scenario and is planning the future manpower needs accordingly, retain the existing talent and manage them.
How has NHPC aligned its HR systems and processes to enable sustainable people development in the organization?
In NHPC, HR systems and processes are aligned with the aspirations and developmental needs of the workforce, and provide growth opportunities to employees during their career in the company. HR processes are on the online ERP system which is integrated with other platforms like finance, materials management etc. Employee claims and requests are processed online through ESS (employee self service) portal, making all processes seamless and employee friendly. The performance of each employee can also be viewed by each employee by login in to the intranet portal. The transparency of the system has improved employee motivation and engagement levels, making a remarkable shift the in performance level of each employee. The needs and satisfaction level of employees are assessed at periodic intervals to review policies and processes so that they are customised to satisfy employee needs.
What do you think are the strengths of Human Resource of NHPC? What makes you confident and optimistic about NHPC's future?
NHPC has maintained its premier position in the hydropower sector over the years. Beginning with a meagre 3 projects in construction that were hardly seeing much headway, NHPC today has 22 Power Stations with an installed capacity of over 6,700 MW (including 2 power stations of 1520 MW of NHDC, a JV company of NHPC and Govt of Madhya Pradesh) with another 3 Projects of 3,130 MW under construction. Be it in private sector or Public sector, NHPCians have made their presence felt everywhere. It has turned out to be breeding ground for hydropower talents across the country. Our greatest strength lies in having a strong technical workforce with the required skills and knowledge for all activities from conceptualizing to operating and maintaining the power stations.
With anticipated large scale integration of other renewables like solar and wind of about 175 GW into the grid by 2022, hydropower has become an imperative for maintaining grid stability and grid discipline. A new Hydro Policy is on the anvil and I am sincerely hopeful that NHPC stands to benefit a great deal from it.
Given the strategic imperative to have knowledge based workforce, as a head of Human Resources how do you strategize to ensure that knowledge repository is kept intact in NHPC?
NHPC is going through a season of retirements and in the process, the Company has shrunk from being 12,000 strong a couple of years back to being 8,000 strong now. We are set to lose another 3200 employees including over 700 executives by 2022. These numbers are huge; each number represents 30 to 35 years of rich experiences of best in class knowledge and skill in the tough and complicated area of hydropower development.
To keep our supremacy intact in hydropower and also to carve a niche for ourself in other energy sectors like solar and wind, it is imperative that we replenish our workforce in a seamless manner and make them industry fit and future ready for what industry demands. It is our highest priority as our my team shall spare no effort in giving the Company a new Succession Policy that will not only help the organisation transfer its knowledge and skills from the elders to the younger ones but also make the younger ones feel empowered to face the challenges in the future.
The other foreseen challenge noticed was the eminent shortage of skilled manpower in workmen cadre in the Power Stations going in tandem with surplus manpower in unskilled category. The challenge lies in turning the situation into an opportunity.