Emerging Workplace Trends that Challenge the Organization


The role of the Human Resource Professional is evolving with the change in competitive market environment and the realization that Human Resource Management must play a more strategic role in the success of an organization. Organizations that do not put their emphasis on attracting and retaining talents may find themselves in dire consequences, as their competitors may be outplaying them in the strategic employment of their human resources.

With the increase in competition, locally or globally, organizations must become more adaptable, resilient, agile, and customer-focused to succeed. And within this change in environment, the HR professional has to evolve to become a strategic partner, an employee sponsor or advocate, and a change mentor within the organization. In order to succeed, HR must be a business driven function with a thorough understanding of the organization's big picture and be able to influence key decisions and policies. In general, the focus of today's HR Manager is on strategic personnel retention and talents development. HR professionals will be coaches, counselors, mentors, and succession planners to help motivate organization's members and their loyalty. The HR manager will also promote and fight for values, ethics, beliefs, and spirituality within their organizations, especially in the management of workplace diversity.

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This paper will highlight on how a HR professional can meet the challenges and Trend of HR Professional, how to motivate employees through gain-sharing and executive information system through proper planning, organizing, leading and controlling their human resources.

II. Review of Literature and Studies

Organizations have entered a new era characterized by rapid, dramatic and turbulent changes. The accelerated pace of change has transformed how work is performed by employees in diverse organizations. Change has truly become an inherent and integral part of organizational life.

Several emerging trends are impacting organizational life. Of these emerging trends, five will be examined: globalization, diversity, flexibility, technology, and networks. These five emerging trends create tensions for organizational leaders and employees as they go through waves of changes in their organizations. These tensions present opportunities as well as threats, and if these tensions are not managed well, they will result in dysfunctional and dire organizational outcomes at the end of any change process.


To stay competitive, more organizations are embracing offshore outsourcing. Many functions are being shifted to India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries for their low labor costs, high levels of workforce education, and technological advantages. According to the 2002-2003 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Workplace Forecast, companies such as Ford, General Motors, and Nestle employ more people outside of their headquarters countries than within those countries.

Almost any company, whether in manufacturing or services, can find some part of its work that can be done off site. Forrester Research projects that 3.3 million U.S. service- and knowledge-based jobs will be shipped overseas by the year 2015, 70 percent of which will move to India. Communication and information sharing are occurring across the globe in multiple languages and multiple cultures. Global competition and global cooperation coexist in the new world economy.

One major consequence of globalization is greater mobility in international capital and labor markets. This creates a global marketplace where there is more opportunity, because there are more potential customers. However, there is also more competition, as local companies have to compete with foreign companies for customers.

According to Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the processes associated with the global integration of markets for goods, services, and capital have created two sources of tensions.

First, reduced barriers to trade and investment accentuate the asymmetries between groups that can cross international borders, and those that cannot. In the first category are owners of capital, highly skilled workers, and many professionals. Unskilled and semiskilled workers and most middle managers belong in the second category.

Second, globalization engenders conflicts within and between nations over domestic norms and the social institutions that embody them. As the technology for manufactured goods becomes standardized and diffused internationally, nations with very different sets of values, norms, institutions, and collective preferences begin to compete head on in markets for similar goods. Trade becomes contentious when it unleashes forces that undermine the norms implicit in local or domestic workplace practices.

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According to Thomas (1992), dimensions of workplace diversity include, but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, religious beliefs, parental status, and work experience.

The future success of any organizations relies on the ability to manage a diverse body of talent that can bring innovative ideas, perspectives and views to their work. The challenge and problems faced of workplace diversity can be turned into a strategic organizational asset if an organization is able to capitalize on this melting pot of diverse talents. With the mixture of talents of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, ages and lifestyles, an organization can respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively, especially in the global arena (Cox, 1993), which must be one of the important organizational goals to be attained. More importantly, if the organizational environment does not support diversity broadly, one risks losing talent to competitors.

This is especially true for multinational companies (MNCs) who have operations on a global scale and employ people of different countries, ethical and cultural backgrounds. Thus, a HR professional needs to be mindful and may employ a 'Think Global, Act Local' approach in most circumstances. The challenge of workplace diversity is also prevalent amongst Singapore's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). With a population of only four million people and the nation's strive towards high technology and knowledge-based economy; foreign talents are lured to share their expertise in these areas. Thus, many local HR professional have to undergo cultural-based Human Resource Management training to further their abilities to motivate a group of professional that are highly qualified but culturally diverse. Furthermore, the HR professional must assure the local professionals that these foreign talents are not a threat to their career advancement (Toh, 1993). In many ways, the effectiveness of workplace diversity management is dependent on the skilful balancing act of the HR Professional.

One of the main reasons for ineffective workplace diversity management is the predisposition to pigeonhole employees, placing them in a different silo based on their diversity profile (Thomas, 1992). In the real world, diversity cannot be easily categorized and those organizations that respond to human complexity by leveraging the talents of a broad workforce will be the most effective in growing their businesses and their customer base.

In order to effectively manage workplace diversity, Cox (1993) suggests that a HR Profesional needs to change from an ethnocentric view ("our way is the best way") to a culturally relative perspective ("let's take the best of a variety of ways"). This shift in philosophy has to be ingrained in the managerial framework of the HR Manager in his/her planning, organizing, leading and controlling of organizational resources.


Globalization and diversity trends are forcing organizations to become more flexible and adaptable. To be able to function globally and to embrace diversity, HR Professional in organizations have to become more flexible and develop a wider repertoire of skills and strategies in working with diverse groups of people in the workplace as well as in the marketplace.

The response to increased diversity has, in many cases, been increased organizational flexibility. Some organizations allow workers to have very different work arrangements (e.g. flex-time) and payment schedules. Some organizations (and workers) have found it convenient to treat some workers as independent consultants rather than employees. In certain occupations, advances in communication and information technologies have enabled telecommuting -working at home via computer. One consequence of this is the blurring of boundaries between work and home, and where and when work occurs. The benefits of greater flexibility may be countered by the negative consequences of working 24/7 including higher stress and burnout.

The response to increased competition, however, has resulted in a tension generated by the demands to be flexible and yet maintain some stability as changes are implemented in organizations. To stay competitive, organizations are constantly changing and restructuring to increase flexibility and decrease costs. Business process reengineering, business process out-sourcing, job redesign, and other approaches to optimize business processes have been implemented to increase operational and process efficiency while reducing the costs of doing business.

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Changes in business and operational processes need time to stabilize for employees to learn the new processes, become familiar with them, and be able to operate effectively and efficiently. Yet, competitive pressures can cause organizations to go through a series of changes without giving employees adequate time for learning and training, and for the benefits of the change to be fully realized in the organization. This tension is well-captured by Columbia Business School professor Eric Abrahamson in his book, Change Without Pain (2004) in which he discussed how organizations can go through change overload and how employees can experience change fatigue and burnout. Professor Abrahamson proposes "creative recombination" as an alternative approach to the highly destructive, destabilizing and painful changes caused by "creative destruction".


A Human Resource Management System (HRMS, EHRMS), Human Resource Information System (HRIS), HR Technology or also called HR modules, or simply "Payroll", refers to the systems and processes at the intersection between human resource management (HRM) and information technology. It merges HRM as a discipline and in particular its basic HR activities and processes with the information technology field, whereas the programming of data processing systems evolved into standardized routines and packages of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. On the whole, these ERP systems have their origin on software that integrates information from different applications into one universal database. The linkage of its financial and human resource modules through one database is the most important distinction to the individually and proprietary developed predecessors, which makes this software application both rigid and flexible.

The function of Human Resources departments is generally administrative and not common to all organizations. Organizations may have formalized selection, evaluation, and payroll processes. Efficient and effective management of "Human Capital" has progressed to an increasingly imperative and complex process. The HR function consists of tracking existing employee data which traditionally includes personal histories, skills, capabilities, accomplishments and salary. To reduce the manual workload of these administrative activities, organizations began to electronically automate many of these processes by introducing specialized Human Resource Management Systems. HR executives rely on internal or external IT professionals to develop and maintain an integrated HRMS. Before the client-server architecture evolved in the late 1980s, many HR automation processes were relegated to mainframe computers that could handle large amounts of data transactions. In consequence of the low capital investment necessary to buy or program proprietary software, these internally-developed HRMS were unlimited to organizations that possessed a large amount of capital. The advent of client-server, Application Service Provider, and Software as a Service or SaaS Human Resource Management Systems enabled increasingly higher administrative control of such systems. Currently Human Resource Management Systems encompass:

1. Payroll

2. Work Time

3. Benefits Administration

4. HR management Information system

5. Recruiting

6. Training/Learning Management System

7. Performance Record

8. Employee Self-Service

The payroll module automates the pay process by gathering data on employee time and attendance, calculating various deductions and taxes, and generating periodic pay cheques and employee tax reports. Data is generally fed from the human resources and time keeping modules to calculate automatic deposit and manual cheque writing capabilities. This module can encompass all employee-related transactions as well as integrate with existing financial management systems.

The work time gathers standardized time and work related efforts. The most advanced modules provide broad flexibility in data collection methods, labor distribution capabilities and data analysis features was outdated. Cost analysis and efficiency metrics are the primary functions.

The benefits administration module provides a system for organizations to administer and track employee participation in benefits programs. These typically encompass insurance, compensation, profit sharing and retirement.

The HR management module is a component covering many other HR aspects from application to retirement. The system records basic demographic and address data, selection, training and development, capabilities and skills management, compensation planning records and other related activities. Leading edge systems provide the ability to "read" applications and enter relevant data to applicable database fields, notify employers and provide position management and position control not in use. Human resource management function involves the recruitment, placement, evaluation, compensation and development of the employees of an organization. Initially, businesses used computer based information systems to:

• produce pay checks and payroll reports;

• maintain personnel records;

• pursue Talent Management.

Online recruiting has become one of the primary methods employed by HR departments to garner potential candidates for available positions within an organization. Talent Management systems typically encompass:

• analyzing personnel usage within an organization;

• identifying potential applicants;

• recruiting through company-facing listings;

• recruiting through online recruiting sites or publications that market to both recruiters and applicants.

The significant cost incurred in maintaining an organized recruitment effort, cross-posting within and across general or industry-specific job boards and maintaining a competitive exposure of availabilities has given rise to the development of a dedicated Applicant Tracking System, or 'ATS', module.

The training module provides a system for organizations to administer and track employee training and development efforts. The system, normally called a Learning Management System if a stand alone product, allows HR to track education, qualifications and skills of the employees, as well as outlining what training courses, books, CDs, web based learning or materials are available to develop which skills. Courses can then be offered in date specific sessions, with delegates and training resources being mapped and managed within the same system. Sophisticated LMS allow managers to approve training, budgets and calendars alongside performance management and appraisal metrics.

The Employee Self-Service module allows employees to query HR related data and perform some HR transactions over the system. Employees may query their attendance record from the system without asking the information from HR personnel. The module also lets supervisors approve O.T. requests from their subordinates through the system without overloading the task on HR department.

Many organizations have gone beyond the traditional functions and developed human resource management information systems, which support recruitment, selection, hiring, job placement, performance appraisals, employee benefit analysis, health, safety and security, while others integrate an outsourced Applicant Tracking System that encompasses a subset of the above.


Organizations that flatten tend to encourage horizontal communication among workers. Rather than working through the organizational hierarchy, it is often faster for workers who need to coordinate with each other simply to communicate directly. Such organizations are highly networked.

Another meaning of networked organizations refers to their relations to other organizations. Organizations that have downsized to just their core competencies must then outsource all the functions that used to be done inhouse. To avoid losing time and effort managing contracts with suppliers, organizations have learned to develop close ties to their suppliers so that social mechanisms of coordination replace legal mechanisms, which are slow and costly. In many industries, such as the garment industry in Italy, strong relationships have developed between manufacturers and suppliers (and other manufacturers), so that considerable work is done without a contract and without even working out a firm price. For these networked organizations to work, high trust and social capital between organizations are key elements.

Networked organizations are particularly important in industries with complex products where technologies and customer needs change rapidly, such as in high technology industries. Close ties among a set of companies enables them to work with each other in ways that are faster than arms-length contracts would permit, and yet retains the flexibility of being able to drop the relationship if needed (as opposed to performing the function in-house). The trend towards networked organizations and structures create a new tension between interdependence and independence. The forces of aggregation and disaggregation throw up new challenges for organizations, for example, the use of independent contractors, joint ventures, strategic partnerships and alliances even with competitors.

One advantage of networks is that organizations have greater flexibility and thus they can become more competitive in the global marketplace. Another advantage is that organizations do not require that many resources such as employee benefits, office space, and financing for new business ventures.

On the other hand, networks have distinct disadvantages. Organizations may find it more difficult to control quality of goods or services as they now have to depend on their partners in the networks to deliver the quality that is desired. Legal and contracting expertise as well as negotiation expertise will also be important for networks. Alternative forms of control may need to be developed to control quality. Alternative mechanisms for coordination may also need to be developed to manage the growing constellation and sometimes tenuous nature of other partner organizations in the network.

All the five trends produce result in greater organizational or system complexity for HR Professional in organizations. The tensions produced by these trends cannot be solved. They have to be managed. Effective approaches in organizational change will involve not one strategy but many alternatives and will require leaders and employees to develop greater resilience in confronting these tensions.

III. Reaction

True enough that the HR Professional is phasing a lot changes and trend that encouraged huge change in any organization. HR Professional must accept this trend in able to for them to grasp in never ending change. This 5 trend are now being embrace by many organizations.

Globalization trend, may organization specially here in the Philippines are using outsourcing instead of hiring a HR Professional. Example: Instead of hiring Payroll and Time Keeper, may company are using electronic time captured device that allow the outsourcing company to time and payroll. This trend are creating advantages and this advantages

Advantages: There will be no HR professional will focusing this area, there are strategic allocations for HR Professionals and HR professional will be focusing on Human Development. In the contrary it also has disadvantages: since time keeping and payroll are being done by the outsource company there would be a possible problem when it comes to employee satisfaction, Time keeping problems such us: failure to finger scan, un computed time, wrong computation due to time discrepancies and not all organization can embraces this trend .

Diversity trend - May organization here in the Philippines are owned by Koreans, Japanese, American and other foreign investor. This could be one factor that added cultural diversity in industries. Local plus foreign differences that could be resulted in a mixed local-foreign diversity. For instance an organization made of ilocano, batangeño and manileño could create cultural and social diversity. HR Professionals must learn how to adopt the differences because they are mainly the model in accepting diversity thus it must be reflected by HR Professional because they are creating human development that include diversity acceptance.

Flexibility - Because of Globalization and Diversity may HR Professional are now flexible. They can easily adopt changes. This characteristic must be posses by all HR Professional to become more successful to handle big responsibility.

Technology - evolution of technology is very fast. It changes the way of life. HRIS is one of the products of technology; before we are doing 201 file (we will need a lot of folders, paper and other staff) but because of HRIS we can make this thing eliminated. We can now create paperless 201 file and also we can now file are absences, leaves, overtime online. But the problem is, not all company can buy this thing. They still using traditional method and this really affect HR professional because they are being left behind.

The role of the HR Professional must parallel the needs of the changing organization. Successful organizations are becoming more adaptable, resilient, quick to change directions, and customer-centered. Within this environment, the HR professional must learn how to manage effectively through planning, organizing, leading and controlling the human resource and be knowledgeable of emerging trends in training.

I.V Reference

1. SHRM Workplace Forecast: A Strategic Outlook 2000-2003. Alexandria: Society for Human Resource Management.

2. Earley, P.C., Soon Ang, and Joo-Seng Tan. CQ: Developing Cultural Intelligence in the Workplace. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.

3. John M. Ivancevich.: Human Resources Management. Mc Graw-Hill International, 2007

This paper will highlight on how a HR manager can meet the challenges of workplace diversity, how to motivate employees through gain-sharing and executive information system through proper planning, organizing, leading and controlling their human