Coworking with Suvarna Joshi

Head of people at Meetup
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· 4 min read

On Wednesdays, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with HR Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Suvarna Joshi joined social media platform Meetup as its head of people earlier this year. After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, she got her first taste of HR when she developed training modules for more than 5,000 students in New Delhi, India. Joshi has since embarked on a career in HR, earning master’s degrees in psychology and organizational psychology and developing a passion for employee well-being along the way.

How would you describe your specific job to someone who doesn’t work in HR? You know how when you build a house, you need a strong foundation, and also want it to look beautiful, both externally and internally? The house, in this case, is the business. The external beautification is the work of the engineering, marketing, and product team, while the foundation that you build these designs on is the work of the HR team.

We provide support to all functions of the business and also protect the house from any shocks, which, in the business world, would mean [issues with] compliance, employee relations, conflict management, etc. Having a strong foundation also means that you can modify the exterior and interiors of the house any time. If there is a change in the external environment due to which you have to change your business model, HR is the pillar on which you make the changes.

What’s the biggest misconception people might have about your job? I think people feel HR is one-dimensional—focused on compliance, payroll, employee issues. However, this is just one part, or the functional aspect, of HR. [But] we also have a strategic aspect, which most individuals are not aware of or don’t give HR enough credit for. This strategic aspect includes employee development, succession planning, compensation analysis, building and maintaining organizational culture, etc. 

What’s the most fulfilling aspect of your job? The coaching and learning and development aspect of the job is definitely the most fulfilling aspect. You see the direct impact on individuals during these sessions and that energy is so infectious! Whether it is a coaching session where you are helping individuals become better versions of themselves by giving them the toolkit to have difficult conversations, manage change, or receive feedback at work, or its a technical skill development session where you are helping employees learn new skills/better their existing skills, you get to create a positive impact both for the business and the employees…We get to work on developing employee growth mindsets and make them better individuals. It is absolutely rewarding and I get motivated by seeing the spark in employees during these sessions.

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What trend in HR are you most optimistic about? Why? Hands-down the focus on overall employee well-being! The pandemic really helped in pushing this trend to a whole new level. Now [most] organizations are offering monthly wellness perks, mental health resources to employees, and there is a push by organizations to find newer well-being benefits for their employees. What is helping is the ever expanding marketplace for employee well-being and the traditional benefit providers also offering these services.

What trend in HR are you least optimistic about? Why? While the field of people/talent analytics has grown tremendously, there is still a knowledge gap amongst HR professionals. It’s not part of the traditional HR training in schools/colleges, and companies are not investing enough on the HR teams to be involved in this field. Most of the employees that are part of the people analytics teams at organizations are data scientists/analysts. The people analytics teams should be a mix of traditional HR and data science folks so there is a holistic understanding of how teams function, how to understand and leverage from DE&I efforts, and track employee metrics. 

Want to be featured in an upcoming edition of Coworking? Click here to introduce yourself.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.