When crisis brings synergy

Sehar KhushbooI am delighted today to publish the first article from Khushboo Sehar. Sehar reached out to me mentioning the article I wrote last year, asking my readers to write an article for my blog – the invitation is still open 🙂 . I was delighted to read her piece. This is a real-life experience of collaboration between Finance and C&B, and HR analytics bringing value to the business. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. So here it is :


Crisis brings synergy

A statement which I have been pondering on lately…

Due to the recent downturn in the Oil and Gas sector, a lot of focus has shifted to introducing more efficient ways of doing business as opposed to the age old approach of randomly tackling the issues the adversity in general is surely bringing synergy in several departments including HR, Finance and Business.

In my rather short span in the O&G sector, I have seen its heightened glory and down low turf and what surprises me is the contrasting difference between the approaches before and after. During the good years, I have seen departments working in silos and passing the buck from one to another as opposed to working as one single unit to support the business.

I have also seen support functions being reactive to business needs and accepting what comes in their way without questioning the rationality of the pre-defined ways. This however, changed recently.

The rise in the use of cost effective ways of doing business in the current climate has brought harmony within the arch rivals wherein, every department now seems to flow in one direction with the motive of surviving during the difficult times the industry is going through.

The idea of writing this article occurred to me recently when I wanted to support business in deciding the areas where they can control cost.

I conducted a thorough financial analysis on business performance for the last three years including the revenue, operating income and labor cost in total and per headcount for each business unit which I then linked with year on year headcount trend as per the employee group on local contract and expat contract.

The intent for doing this rather extensive exercise for all of my regions was to understand the correlation between revenue and operating income with the labor cost for each category of employee group we had, and to encourage business leads to revisit their hiring/retention strategies by focusing on talent available in their corresponding geo markets.

This is where I truly experienced the new synergy between departments that may not have collaborated that much in the past. Finance is the gateway to this type of data which previously was hard to get, with a lot of convincing and higher up approvals for HR to gain access to the info.

This time however, all I had to do was to present a strong business case to the Finance Director and convince him of my intent based on which he agreed to provide me the company financials both past and projected.

The next part was to conduct the analysis and make that data useful and understandable for our HR folks and business alike. Understanding the power of communication, I presented my analysis with graphs and arranged calls with HR Leads explaining in detail what we were trying to get out of it.

HR Leads then took it to Business Leads in their respective countries based on which business took some important decisions which enabled them to achieve cost savings by maximising the limited resources they had. This included revising variable pay components which were directly linked with the business activity; this on its own brought significant savings to the company.

This takes me back to the point made earlier about the power of synergy where Finance cooperated with Compensation, which in turn prepared HR to go to the business to show them the wider picture, and business in turn took some important decisions.

The point is, I believe in synchronisation more so now than ever as I have seen its power in full swing.  Its effect is far reaching not only in the short term but also in the long run. I have also established that support functions are more credited if working as Business Partners actively supporting the business through ups and downs. This has certainly raised my hopes that if we can pull it off during crisis, we most definitely can do the same during the glory days.

This is a very small example which is relatable to me. I am sure there are numerous examples out there which I may not be aware of. How about you? Has crisis brought more synergy between HR and other departments in your organisation? Please share your thoughts in the comments below !


About Sehar :

I am currently working as a Regional Compensation Analyst for Halliburton for MENA and Eurasia Region. The realm of this role includes designing a wide array of remuneration policies and practices for my geo markets. Prior to this role, I was a HR Advisor for Cambridge University – UK. It is during this role that I was able to incorporate remuneration practices with workforce reconfiguration, employee consultation, redundancies and application of workforce change strategies. I have also worked for Lloyds Banking Group in the UK as HR Team Lead. I must admit that HR is my passion and Compensation takes the lead out of all the fields of HR.

Get to Sehar’s LinkedIn profile here

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