Interview with Sangita Awale on Human Resources
Sangita Awale is an experienced Human Resources with a demonstrated history of working in the human resources industry. As a strong human resources professional skilled in Communication, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Event Management, Documentation, Recruitment and Selection, Performance Management, and HR Policies, Sangita Awale has been working as a Human Resources Professional in Good Neighbors International Nepal for 6 years. She had also been engaged in many organizations.
1. You have quite a lot of experience in the HR field. What factors drove you to choose HR as your professional career?
HR is quite a dynamic field. It is simple, yet a lot more complicated. It gives you an opportunity to serve the most important asset of any organization, i.e., the PEOPLE. I like being people’s people and what could be better than an HR career for one who wants to work for people and with people? The idea of connecting both employee and employer in terms of HR also excited me to pursue this career in a way. The other fact I love about HR is, it is constantly growing and changing; never boring, and always challenging. Not a single day is the same in HR and keeps on throwing new lessons every day for you to learn from and grow accordingly.
2. According to you, what should be an ideal HR workplace and what should it constitute?
The HR workplace is designed according to the organization’s nature and its objectives. It is not the same for all, however, the major entities that are vital for an ideal HR workplace, in my point of view, are:
Proper and systematic policies and guidelines. Moreover, the environment where people can implement whatever is mentioned in those guidelines.
Communication is another vital component. Both employer and employee shall maintain their respect and dignity which is possible through clear communication between two.
Transparency of plans and activities of the organization to all. Engage people and value their opinions, participate them in planning and decision making that will create a sense of belongingness
Set clear goals and expectations. Train and capacitate them.
Promote work-life balance.
3. What sort of HR metrics, tools, and technology does Good Neighbors International Nepal use to hire and recruit staff?
The hiring process in GNI Nepal is transparent. We focus on talent sourcing while conducting any hiring or recruiting people for the organization. We use newspapers and job portals for announcing external vacancies. The received applications are first screened through the initial screening matrix which constitutes different criteria for the selection based on the job specification of the position. As for the tools, we follow a written test, interview(s), group discussion, and/or presentation based on the position of the application. The selection ultimately is merit-based. The reference check is the final stage of the process. Some of the HR metrics that we use in hiring are the time for filling the position, cost of recruitment, quality of hire, offer acceptance rates, etc.
4. Can you please elaborate more about the mission, vision, and goals of Good Neighbors International Nepal and who is eligible to join the organization?
Good Neighbors International (GNI) Nepal has been working with the objective of improving the lives of poor people, especially children through child protection, education, income generation, health services, WASH, advocacy, governance, and disaster risk reduction/ programs. Currently, GNI Nepal serves marginalized, vulnerable, and poor children, families, and communities in 22 districts across Nepal. The major goal of GNI Nepal is thus to create an enabling environment for children and communities through education, health, livelihood, and child protection.
Anybody who meets the criteria as specified by the job is eligible to apply for the vacant position and will have to face a few recruitment tools in practice. We offer the position on a merit basis. Moreover, females and members of ethnic and marginalized communities who meet the job-specific criteria are prioritized while screening and during the selection process too.
5. What is the importance of versatility and patience while working in the HR field?
Versatility and patience are prime competencies that are required in any HR professional. Every human is different and the circumstances they come from, their priorities, desires, wants, and needs are different. You, as an HR professional, should know each one of your people, understand them, adopt different strategies to deal with different people, and remain alert all the time. Also, HR is most probably the only unit in an organization that deals with people from all levels and with different skill levels; from janitors to officers to managers and even directors. So, you can’t use an umbrella strategy to address the wide range of conditions you come across every day in your profession. As I said earlier, no day is the same in this profession. So, versatility becomes the key, and definitely, having patience, you will be able to remain calm for making any right decisions
6. What recruiting approaches do GNI Nepal follow to hire the best candidates for the required positions?
Depending on the position and urgency of the requirement, we adopt different sources of recruitment. We publish vacancies in newspapers and on job portals. Some are announced internally and for some, we headhunt. We adopt different recruitment tools too based on position to ensure the best candidate is screened and selected. I personally look for the potential, performance, skill, and will of the candidate to ensure the candidate is best suited for the required position.
7. During the COVID-19 pandemic, how did GNI Nepal cope with the ongoing situation and what effects did the crisis bring upon organizational activities?
COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone and is still ongoing. With the third wave of omicron, we are still facing a crisis. During the first wave of COVID, we had to enforce a remote working approach considering the well-being of our staff members. We initiated a few practices to ease our staff members facing the crisis. We implemented a COVID special leave provision of 5 days for our staff who contracted the virus. We also enrolled our employees into COVID Insurance Policy and when the policy matured, we started the provision of supporting their medical expenses through the organization itself. In addition, we explored different ways of employee engagement and practiced them with our staff virtually. We encouraged everyone for self-development approaches too and also conducted a few learning sessions using internal and/or external facilitators. We also conducted a few refreshment programs virtually. Besides motivational sessions, we organized different well-being sessions from a psychiatrist and spiritual healers too.
Regarding organizational activities, we had diverted certain parts of our Annual Budget to COVID response programs in 2020 and 2021 based on the provision of SWC and supported the government to overcome the situation from the national to the local level. The majority of these were safety gears and medical equipment support i.e., ventilator, ICU beds, PCR test kits, etc. support to health institutions. Food support to individuals, quarantine management support and handwashing station establishment were conducted at provincial and district levels. We had also run the radio-based learning program and awareness-raising through local FM stations in order to continue their learnings while schools were closed during the pandemic as well as created awareness on prevention of COVID infection among the public.
8. Can you please tell us about the employees’ growth and development strategies used in GNI?
GNI Nepal has prioritized learning programs for all. We have a system of enrolling everyone into at least 3 training or learning sessions every year. We do have practices of succession planning which is linked with the bi-annual performance appraisal system of the organization. Moreover, the external vacancies of higher positions are occasionally announced as we prefer providing growth opportunities to the internal members at first.
9. GNI has been associated with many other organizations. What kind of activities are GNI enrolled with by partnering with these organizations?
Yes, GNI is associated with many partner organizations that implement our programs at the community levels. GNI is enrolled with these partners for community development programs under different themes that we work on viz., health and WASH, education, livelihood, child protection, etc. Also, we are involved in various networks of INGOs and working groups at the central and provincial levels to advocate our programs and activities and work collaboratively to achieve common goals.
10. What do you want to say to the recent graduates who want to land their career in the HR field?
The HR field is for the ones who are versatile and who can bear enough patience. You need to be empathetic and exercise the practice of prioritizing others above yourself. As an HR, you always are in a supporting role, so, at times, you might feel you are least prioritized, devalued, and disliked but never forget to be “kind”. It is not everyone's cup of tea and takes pride in it. More importantly, before landing this profession, I suggest you take self-assessment personality tests to know yourself.
11. Any specific message that you want to share.
The HR profession is gradually taking its pace and is being recognized as an important function for organizational well-being in the context of Nepal. The need for HR has been recognized even more post-COVID-19 which has brought in drastic workplace transformations. With these, the challenges for HR practitioners have also increased. One of the major challenges the HR practitioners must demonstrate in any organization is how it can impact the organizational core values through value-added propositions. Value addition can precisely be evidenced through matrices for different functions you carry out. Hence, besides soft skills and basic technical HR skills, they must be literate in technology as well as data interpretation and analysis so that they can identify the underlying factors influencing the various functions in the organization and proactively make pertinent decisions.
And, last but not the least, do what you love. It will make your work and life much easier.
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