Human Resource Management Has Evolved Commerce Essay


The manager's role, too, has undergone dramatic change over the years. From control and direction of employees, he is expected to move toward clarifying goals and paths and creating a supportive and growth oriented environment, where people are willing to take up assigned roles willingly and enthusiastically. To be effective, Human Resource managers are genuinely expected to successfully evolve an appropriate corporate culture, build proper working environment, take a strategic approach to the acquisition, motivation and development of human resources and introduce programs that reflect and support the core values of the organization and its people. . When opportunities for growth and enhancement of skills are available, people will be stimulated to give their best, leading to greater job satisfaction and organizational overall effectiveness.

Over the past 100 years the HR profession has been continuously evolving and changing, adding more and different roles and responsibilities. When one traces the HR profession, one finds that out of the Industrial Revolution labor unions and the industrial welfare, this movement arose, as well as groundbreaking research in scientific management and industrial psychology. This led to the establishment of the first personnel departments during the 1920s. During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s the profession was enhanced by the human relations movement as well as the academic disciplines from the behavioral sciences and systems theory (Macky & Johnson, 2003). In the 1980's climate of anxiety over prospects for economic growth, it became apparent that there was a need for the HR function to become more 'proactive' and human resource problems needed to be anticipated and prevented or at least minimized (Gilbertson, 1984). Nevertheless, this decade also saw the HR profession faced with criticism and questions regarding its validity, which subsequently resulted in a significant body of research that linked HR practices to organizational performance (Stewart, 1996).

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The movement towards these changes was caused by economic pressures such as the increasing need for competitiveness, unprecedented levels of economic uncertainty and a shift from manufacturing to service-based industry. However, the competition among the companies is actually the competition of human resources, as the market reveals. A company, as a profit-pursuing organization, is always under the pressure of delivering new products to win market share. Without high quality human resources and its effective functioning, a company can hardly endure the profit pressure and pursue its long term business strategy. The past decades has witnessed the transition of employee becoming the most precious capital in the company and the ascent of Human Resource Management (Schuler, 1990).

In the past, the HR function was recognized as the personnel management that focuses on administration (selection, appraisal, reward, and development), welfare and industrial relationship. The HR department was treated less important than financial and marketing departments, because it did not create direct value, nor have any decision power on strategic issue (Fombrun, Tichy, & Devanna, 1984; Hall & Goodale, 1986). The traditional personnel managers paid attention to labor management, but did not participate into a company's planning and strategy decision. They paid great attention to control their employees, including carefully designing the contracts and rules for monitoring the employees (Storey, 1995). The line managers at this moment played passive roles on the personnel management (Storey, 1995). The line managers were the transactor of the decisions made by the personnel managers, and they were the industrial relationship builders through the negotiation with employees and employers.

Since early 1980s, the personnel management started to shift to "human resource management", due to the fact that HR professionals were considered to involve in strategic business decisions. The main tasks of HR professionals still focused on the daily administration, but broadened management activities are involved in the HR function, which reflected that the HRM began to pay its attention to the relationship with strategic business issue. (Fombrun, Tichy, & Devanna, 1984; Hall & Goodale, 1986). At this time, the HR function was still considered as the exclusive performance done mostly by HR department, and it spread its main activities onto three levels. The lowest level was the operational level, which managed the daily personnel issue of the organization. The second was the managerial level which mainly concerned how to manage the capable workforce by acquisition, retention and development. The highest level was the strategy level.

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However, HR function needed to be strategic on operational and managerial level, and to become more mission-oriented.. According to (Hall & Goodale, 1986) the main responsibility was to get the qualified people, and set the policies and programs for long-term human resources demand. However, the lacks of the integration with the line management level, and the lack of the power were the two major obstacles affecting the effectiveness of HR function. The elaborate routine tasks and overloaded paper work also made the HR function inefficient. Since then, HR function paid attention to the future development of business. The HR function is shifting from a traditional one to a strategic one, especially in the large organizations. In the small and medium companies, the HR function is likely to be the same as before. It makes the traditional structure of HR function different that the line managers and employees involve in HR issue

Human resource management has developed for almost twenty years and the HR function has changed a lot from the activities to management level.. But HR professionals are still considered as the core of workforce management, especially towards the strategy aspect. Thus, Ulrich has defined the "four strategic roles of HR professionals" in 1997. The first role is "strategic partners", who work together with top executives to make competitive business strategies and to figure appropriate HR strategies, policies, practices and tasks to support the business strategies. The second role of HR professional is "administrative experts", who should make HRM works more effective and efficient. Further, "Employee champions" is the deputation of employees. That means, at this position, the first thing HR professionals should do is to understand and find out the demand of employees, by taking friendly and useful communication with them frequently. "Change agents" are the HR professionals that support and manage the organization transformation and the changes.

Therefore, the HR function has adapted and changed, since the theoretical framework of HR four roles model is launched by Ulrich in 1997. Major functions that are currently being carried out by HR department includes selection and recruitment of human resources; planning of its human resources; organizing training and development programs for its employees; appraising performance of the employees; analyzing work related behavior; wage and salary administration; compensation management; maintaining industrial relations, creating safety work environment; collective bargaining; and performing legal duties (Dudeja, 2000). It is evident that many activities are undertaken by the HR department. These activities need continuous evaluation and management of human resources is also equally important like that of marketing management, production management, financial management and operational management. Quantitative methods are rarely used to evaluate HR functioning of an organization. It is, therefore, essential to assess current service level of HR functions offered by the HR Department.

The functions of HR department are not confined to a particular department. Rather, across the organization it has significant roles to play. However, the business world is becoming more challenging and more demanding, and so are the resulting challenges for the human resources (HR) profession which has prime responsibility for the systems and practices that businesses use to manage people in the workplace. Many researchers state that outsourcing the HR activity as is one of many strategies used by business executives to meet the organizations demands and objectives, including cost reduction, increasing flexibility, gaining access to advanced technologies, and a focus on core activities (Lilly, Gray & Virick, 2005). According to Robbins (2005) organizations today face a constantly changing environment which requires them to adapt and change. This, of course, means HRM is continuously being required to change also.

There are many surprises and uncertainties that organizations are facing, and thus HR, including globalization, the fast pace of technological innovation, the ongoing re-definition of the roles and activities of organizations, employers, trade unions and employees, economic and political instabilities, growing ethical and ecological challenges in business, and developments of new economies contribute to the ever changing environment in which business operates. Zanko (2003) includes all of the above mentioned factors and says that they contribute to the ever-changing environment in which business operates and explains that an underlying theme embedded within the HRM trends/issues is that of change. HR needs to embrace this change by ensuring that the business has the right people with the right knowledge, skills and abilities, and create a culture that contributes positively towards change especially when dealing at global level.

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Rhine smith (2006) supports this in saying that HR is becoming the most significant factor in pursuing, defending and taking advantage of operating in a global world and for organizations to be competitive and successful they will need to align their HR processes more effectively with broader organizational goals. Organizations are becoming more reliant on their HR departments to deliver business performance through management and systems that provide success factors needed for a global and local competitive advantage. According to Marrewijk et al, (2007), to survive in a competitive global market and to accomplish long term growth, organizations need to develop and focus on their core competencies. This changing role of human resource is the answer to attaining a competitive advantage in order to keep pace with the competition. Furthermore, human resources are the source of achieving competitive advantage because of its capability to convert the other resources (money, machine, methods and material) into output (product/service). The competitor can imitate other resources like technology and capital but the human resource are unique.

Rundle (1997) argues that one needs to bear in mind that people, not the firm, are the adaptive mechanism in determining how the firm will respond to the competitive environment. He further added that those firms that have learnt how to manage their human resources well would have an edge over others for a long time to come because acquiring and deploying human resources effectively is cumbersome and takes much longer. . Employees involvement in terms of delegation of responsibility and systems of collecting proposals from employees may have a positive impact on productivity. Various models of HRM have been developed from time to time by different teams of the researchers. All these models have helped the HR practitioner to effectively manage the human resources. The Harvard model (Beer et al.1984) works as a strategic map to guide all managers in their relations with employees and concentrates on the human or soft aspect of HRM. It strives at employee commitment not control. It also works on the premise that employees needed to be congruent, competent and cost effective.

(Guest model, 1997) works on the premise that a set of integrated HRM practices will result to superior individual and organizational performance. It holds that HRM strategies like differentiation, innovation, the focus on Quality and cost reduction will lead to practices like better training, appraisal, selection, rewards, job designs, involvement, and security leading to more quality outcomes, commitment and flexibility. It will then affect performance in that increased productivity and innovation will be achieved and limited absences, labor turnover, and conflict or customer complaints will also be reduced. However, HRM practice directly or indirectly affects several other variables in the organization as well. Employee-employer relations can be made improved if the organization implements effective HRM practices. Vanhala and Ahteela (2011) in their study found that employee trust in the whole organization is connected to perceptions of the fairness and functioning of HRM practices. Such practices can therefore be used in order to build the impersonal dimension of Organizational trust.

Therefore, the implementation of proper HRM practices in the organization leads to enhanced employee commitment and organizational development. Maheshwari et al. (2005) conducted a study to find out the commitment of health officials and its implications for HR practices in Maharashtra. The study suggests that the district health officials do not share a strong emotional bond with their department. The state needs to reform its Human Resource Management practices to effectively strengthen the functioning of the health system. Some studies show that certain HRM practices, such as working in teams, greater discretion and autonomy in the workplace and various employee involvement and pay schemes, do motivate workers and generate higher labor (Arthur 1994, Wallace 1995). HRM practices which report a workplace climate that strongly value employee participation,empowermentand accountability tend to be perceived to generally perform better on a number of valued organizational outcomes. Therefore, most valuable resources of any organization are the human resource.

In conclusion I would like to say that trends in Human resource management have changed the way we work, as organizations are more depended on HRM to increase the success ratio in today's competitive global environment. But the adequacy of today cannot be guaranteed to ensure the sustainability of the resources in the nearer future. Human resource management plays a strategic role in ensuring the adequacy and adaptability of the organization to its complex environment in this rapid changing world. At the organizational level, reorganization of work, processes and the way employees' affairs are dealt with are integral parts of today's work-life. The philosophy guiding how people are selected, appraised, trained, motivated and developed is continuous subject to changes in the operating milieu.

Human Resource Management (HRM) is a multi-disciplinary subject which draws its theories and practices from many sources. They are formulated aligning with the objectives and goals of the organizations. It is an evolving discipline and it keeps changing in scope and nomenclature. It is always responding to changes in the environment in order to keep pace with the ever turbulent and unstable micro and macro business environment. Further, the human resource personnel these days are getting skilled in having business insights to predict changes and make informed decisions at both operational and strategic level, which also assist them to accesses current and anticipate future skill shortages. This tendency makes them flexible and adapt to the changes in business environment more quickly and effectively. Therefore, the HR services offered by an organization have a far reaching impact in the functioning and administration of the business organizations.