The Human Resource function has undergone a massive change since its recognition as a separate function in organizations. Originally conceptualized as an area which dealt with selection, recruitment, promotions, retirements, and Wage and salary administration, it gradually added organizational behavior components like leadership, teamwork, motivation, performance etc. in its portfolio. With globalization of business operations, certain issues like diversity management, ethics and social responsibility were added into its framework. After the introduction of IT, the HR functions became more complex, though accessibility became easier with internet enabled platforms. With the demands of the function, HR professionals had to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to fulfill them. Thus HR Professionals have multiple responsibilities to handle at the present times. This study explores the areas which have been integrated into the HR function with time, the changes experienced in HR processes and the development of HR professionals to accommodate these changes in their roles.
A brief outline of the report is given below
New Developments in HRM
Ethics and Social Responsibility
Effect of IT
Evolution of HR professionala. internet enabled platforms
New technologies in HR
New HR processes
Talent acquisition & management
Human Resource function underwent a transformation in the recent years. In addition to the traditional responsibilities handled by it, the continuous changes in the business environment and public awareness prompted it to add certain functions under its umbrella. The HR professionals also evolved in their skills to confront the new challenges that emerged with time. A brief discussion is attempted to highlight the internal and external changes experienced by organizations and various strategies to deal with them and the present role of HR experts to accommodate them. This study describes the new functional responsibilities assumed by HR professionals in response to the demands of the changing business scenario, the skills and qualifications needed to handle the new responsibilities effectively and the methods adopted to develop the new skills.
The evolution of human resource function can be traced through the literature available on the subject. During the 1990s, the literature was more or less theoretical which advanced to empirical studies and the application of the HR theories to the firms (Lengnick-Hall, M. L., et al; 2009). The researchers have traced the evolution of Strategic Human resource Management in a chronological order over a period of 30 years from the literature published on the subject during this period. Tubey, R. (2015) has traced the evolution of human resource management from the term personnel management and the division between employer class and labor class and how a separate function was assigned to address psychological and physiological aspect of a job. Mahoney, T. A., & Deckop, J. R. (1986) have investigated prevalent practices and issues in the field and recent transitions in orientation, such as changes from personnel to human resources, from administration to management, and from human relations to organizational effectiveness. Sims, R. R. (2007) has presented the contemporary issues and challenges faced by the modern Human Resource Manager and advocated the integration of ethics in the HRM function. HR has become more complicated than it was before Information Technology made it easier to hire talents (Biro, M.M. 2014). This development demands that the modern managers be equipped with specialized skills. Biro has enumerated 5 skills necessary for an HR professional in the current times as- using the internet to search for talents, Human resource planning according to organizational strategies, maintaining an HR information system, analyzing data and managing talents and skills. In the modern era of managing for sustainable practices, the HR function must revise its own policies and practices related to performance management, rewards and recognition, and recruitment and selection processes to maintain a sustainability of excellence in performance (Schroeder, H. 2013). The new business environment demands that human resource professionals should shift their attention from monitoring and control to the management and development of skills (Lawler, E.E, 2003). It can be seen that all researchers acknowledge the fact that Human Resource Professionals need to redefine their roles in the changing business atmosphere and develop competencies to meet the current requirements.
The scholarly works on the issue of HR practices and its evolution stresses the fact that HR management has come a long way from being just a marginal function confined to recruitment, training and wage and salary administration or a body to resolve labor problems in an organization. With the evolution of business methods, the role of HR department became more significant in training the personnel to adapt to the change. Human resource management gained recognition as a separate and important discipline only after organizations in U.K and U.S began experiencing labor dissatisfaction. Human Resource management executed the responsibility of computing wages on the basis of ranks and over time, nonuniformity of which was the main cause of employee grievances. Introduction of the pay equity bill, which assured equal pay for equal work necessitated formulation of a compensation policy consistent with individual skills and external practices was the main function of the HR department in the early nineties. New Developments in HRM
With business operations extending across borders and competition becoming more acute, human resource professionals were required to concern themselves with organizational behavior as an important determinant of organizational performance. Human resource managers assumed the responsibility of providing the inputs which would contribute towards affecting organizational behavior positively and consequently ensure elevated levels of performances. The contemporary literature on organizational behavior and the role of HR in manipulating OB for better performance gives us an insight into the new functions integrated into the discipline of HRM (McShane, S., & Von Glinow, M. 2012).
Human Resource Managers now had another important responsibility in organization; the role in enhancing the performance of a firm by altering organizational behavior issues like leadership, team work, organizational learning, role perception, motivation and stress. The new HR professional had to learn these concepts to manage performance effectively. They evolved into a new generation of experts who could enhance the performance of an organization by affecting OB components. He designed training inputs and incentives for enhanced performance, monitored organizational behavior and exercised evaluation and control measures. Therefore, HR professionals now had the task of performance appraisal, designing incentive schemes and mentoring potential leaders as part of their responsibilities.
Globalization -With Globalization of business operations and Corporate Strategies of expansion, human resource management not only had to plan for the availability of skills in alignment with the strategies, goals and mission, it was also assigned a sensitive area – known as diversity management. Joint ventures for broadening the organizational base resulted in a workforce having diverse culture, race or color. For sustainability of these joint ventures, the intermingling of various diverse groups had to be facilitated. Moreover, legislations enforced that any form of discrimination was punishable by law. Therefore Diversity Management was added to the functional role of HR Manager. It became the responsibility of the HR Manager to mobilize the groups in such a way that conflicting situations and resistance to change would be avoided. Training the new employees to adapt to the organizational change, ensuring their smooth integration into organization structure and implementing equity in pay and job opportunities became the new functional responsibilities of the HR manager.
Ethics and Social Responsibility -Greater awareness among the business stakeholders initiated the culture of Ethical management into the framework of human resource management. The human management professionals were now assigned the task of overseeing the transition to a more ethically conscious organization. This would require the HR managers to orient the employees to an ethical culture so that employees do not transcend the accepted norms of the society and jeopardize the organization’s image. Business organizations would need to contribute towards elevating standards of living, work towards sustainability of resources and support philanthropic activities. The HR professionals were now introduced to a new concept- Corporate Social responsibility which induced them to draft a policy that highlighted the activities undertaken by an organization for the benefit of the society.
Effect of IT - Information technology ushered in the age of internet enabled transactions and almost all functions of an organization were affected by it. The Human Resource function too was no exception. IT had affected HR functions of selection, recruitment and training, by using internet as a medium to advertise for jobs, using online employment agencies to sort out candidates suitable for a particular job description. Internet enabled learning was an important training source where online conferences, inputs in training and development by experts contributed towards employee training. Another aspect of incorporating IT enabled systems in working added to the responsibilities of the HR manager. They now had to train and develop the manpower to adopt the electronic based systems. A detailed training plan had to be designed to adapt the employees to the new digital technology. Digital Technology has also brought forth a new species of employees – the online workers who are not the permanent workers in an organization but are employed to handle extra work with the help of internet and employed part time. The HR professionals must draft a remuneration policy for these workers and apply other HR techniques to accommodate them.
Human Resource functions were also required to develop and maintain a human resource information system which facilitates the accessibility of rules, regulations and policies relevant to Human resource Management to all concerned. A common electronic platform that enables an employee to avail the information about compensation, rewards and incentives, performance appraisal methods and career advancement scope within the organization is to be developed by the modern HR manager.
Another responsibility that has to be executed by the HR manager is that of the change coordinator. Changes in business environments induce changes in organization values, culture and processes. The human resource professional in an organization has to undertake the task of conditioning, reorienting and preparing the human resource for the impending change to implement it with minimum resistance. Also the onus of sustaining the change in future also lies in the shoulders of the human resource executives and it must be accomplished by regular inputs and up gradation in the change process.
Evolution of the HR Professional
Evolution refers to the development in a person to accommodate the new roles he will be expected to play in view of the environmental changes. In this case the change in environment is related to business scenario; and evolution refers to the development of skills and qualifications of a human resource professional to confront the situations that present themselves before him owing to the change. The human resource professional must equip himself with new knowledge, skills and qualities that would render him competent enough to incorporate the changes in the human resource functions. The skills and qualities that are to be developed in the modern HR professional are given below:
Knowledge of internet enabled platforms used in HRM – Internet enabled platforms have modernized the functions of selection, recruitment, and training and also made available online professionals whose assistance can be taken for specific tasks. The HR Professional must also have the necessary knowledge about the software that assist in human resource functions.
Knowledge of new technologies that simplify HR functions – Introduction of biometrics in employee identification is being used extensively in organizations to check absenteeism and verify employee attendance. Scientific appraisal procedures that evaluate area specific skills have gained popularity in assessment of employee competency.
Knowledge of new HR processes – The HR professional should be familiar with the new techniques used in HR like the six sigma concept and lean management. He should keep on upgrading himself on the new methods of training and development in the industry.
A proactive approach – He should prepare in advance to facilitate the skills required for initiating the business strategies. His HR planning should provide for the skills that will be required in the future for the materialization of business plans.
Talent acquisition and talent Management skills – He should be adept at recruiting skills that are needed for an organization and retaining them. He should be knowledgeable about the compensation packages of his competitors in the new business environment and should offer competitive remunerations to attract talents. He must provide a good working and advancement opportunity for talent to grow within the organization.
Knowledge of Outsourcing – He should be familiar about the availability of outsourcing as a substitute for in sourcing for specific jobs and be prepared to take advantage of this option to achieve cost efficiency in the organization.
Conclusions & Recommendations
The evolution of Human Resource Management as a function has been gradual. As it evolved through time and embraced new techniques, it became imperative that the traditional HR manager also grows to accommodate the developments both internally and externally. Organizational performance became the concern of the HR professional and he attempted to enhance it through manipulating organizational behavior issues. Issues like leadership, motivation, etc. became relevant for performance and suitable methods were adopted to influence them. Ethics and social responsibility also came under the jurisdiction of HRM with Government regulations to enforce them in business strategies. Managing stress and work life balance became an important responsibility of HR professionals.
Recommendations -To manage the evolving HR portfolio, the modern professional has to undertake the development of new skills. The new skills and qualifications, and continuous up gradation of knowledge will provide him with the competencies to carry out his responsibilities effectively and sustain the organizational changes in the future. New concepts for developing the capabilities of potential leaders like mentoring and coaching are areas where HR professionals should concentrate for further developments in future.
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