Human Resources Management- the new role of Human Resources
A human resource department must be responsive to both internal organizational changes and external changes in the industry or market place. In an effort to build and maintain a fast, agile company, the department must also be prepared to shift gears at a moment’s notice. By participating with line managers, the human resources department can also help develop policies and procedures that support the company’s business objectives.
The strategic transformation of an organization begins with the transformation of the human resources department and its role within the organization. Today’s human resources department must coordinate hiring, training and maintaining the firm’s intellectual capital while meeting the challenges of a changing business environment.
To understand any transition one must have some sense of history. The evolution of human resources management (HRM) is no different. The human story is one of struggle and change. Over time, people’s desires and needs change. Technological innovations, developed in response to these changing needs, impact industry and the climate in which business is conducted. It only makes sense then, that human resource management has had to remain flexible to bridge the gap between the employee and the company.
During the craft system and scientific management system era, workers were subjected to work virtually like machines. In response to this lack of consideration for the human element, the human relations movement emerged. The Hawthorne studies impressed upon managers the need to take into account the individual in the work place. The effects of the work environment and the managerial approach on productivity proved that workers produce more than they are treated-well.
Today, human resources may be the one area in every organization that has experienced the greatest change in the past two or three decades. This evolution has been driven by globalization of business, changing demographics, a trend toward cost containment, integration of advanced technology, increased legislation and the need to align HRM with the firm’s objectives.
Today, the worldwide nature of business impacts virtually all organizations. Competing in new markets brings growing challenges in managing the human resources needed to support international operations. The human resource department must consider laws and cultures of other countries, compensation of expatriate managers, work practices abroad and training programs. Due to increasing competition, organizations have been pressured to cut costs and improve productivity. Labor costs are often an organization’s greatest costs, so the most popular cost-cutting strategy has been to downsize. This strategy presents a real challenge for human resources departments to manage. The most critical departments include severance packages, outplacement programs, reassignment or retraining and motivation of the remaining employees.
Not only technology changed the way that work is performed, it has also enabled human resource departments to become more efficient. Computers facilitate human resource planning, database management and development of sophisticated information systems. Administrative functions such as payroll and benefits are computerized and even the hiring process uses technology to streamline operations.
The human resource department like all other functional areas must be closely aligned with corporate strategic objectives. This alignment is critical if the HRM is to be instrumental in helping the firm achieve its overall objectives.
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