TRENDS IN HRM

Traditionally, the personnel function centred around control and direction of employees for achievement of predetermined goals. The Human Resources Approach, in direct contrast to this, recognises the worth of human being in the realisation of corporate goals. It takes a supportive and developmental route to achieve results through the cooperative efforts of employees. When opportunities for growth and enhancement of skills are available, people will be stimulated to give their best, leading to greater job n satisfaction and organisational effectiveness. The manager’s role, too, has undergone a 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 Trends in HRM enthusiastically. The effective use of people is the most critical factor in the successful accomplishment of corporate goals. To be effective, therefore, Human Resource
managers need to understand the needs, aspirations, concerns of employees proactively, face the challenges head-on and resolve issues amicably. They are expected to successfully evolve an appropriate corporate culture, take a strategic approach to the acquisition, motivation and development of human resources and introduce programmes that reflect and support the core values of the organisation and its people. This is easier said than done in view of constant changes in environment characterised by the following things:
FUTURE OF HRM: INFLUENCING FACTORS
Size of workforce: Corporates have grown in size considerably in recent years, thanks to global competition in almost all fields. The size of the work force, consequently, has increased, throwing up additional challenges before HR managers in the form of additional demands for better pay, benefits and working conditions from various sections of the workforce constantly.
Composition of workforce: The workforce composition is also changing over the years. The rising percentage of women and minorities in the work force is going to alter workplace equations dramatically. Demands for equal pay for equal work, putting an end to gender inequality and bias in certain occupations, the breaking down of grass ceiling have already been met. Constitutional protection ensured to minorities has also been met to a large extent by HR managers in public sector units. The new equations may compel HR managers to pay more attention to protecting the rights of the other sex and ensure statutory protection and concessions to minorities and disadvantaged sections of society. The shifting character of
workforce in terms of age, sex, religion, region, caste etc. is going to put pressures on HR managers trying to integrate the efforts of people from various places. Managing heterogeneous and culturally diverse groups is going to stretch the talents of HR managers fully.
Employee expectations: “Instead of attempting to force employees to conform to a ‘corporate mould’ future managers may well have to make more allowances for individual differences in people”. (Mathis and Jackson p. 616). Nowadays workers are better educated, more demanding and are ready to voice strong, violent and joint protests in case their expectations are not met. The list of financial and nonfinancial demands is ever-growing and expanding. In fast-changing industries such as software, telecom, entertainment and pharmaceuticals the turnover ratios are rising fast and if HR managers do not respond positively to employee expectations, the acquisition and development costs of recruits is going to mount up steadily. An efficient organisation is, therefore required to anticipate and manage turnover through human resource planning, training schemes followed by appropriate compensation
packages.
Changes in technology: Increased automation, modernisation and computerisation have changed the way the traditional jobs are handled. In such a scenario unless employees update their knowledge and skills constantly, they cannot survive and grow. This will necessitate training, retraining and mid-career training of operatives and executives at various levels. Where such initiatives are missing, it becomes very difficult for employees to face the forces of technology with confidence and get ahead in their careers steadily.
Life-style changes: The life-style patterns of employees have undergone a rapid change in recent times. Unlike their predecessors people are now ready to change jobs, shift to new locations, take up jobs in start-up companies instead of manufacturing units and even experiment with untested ideas. A recent survey of young executives in four major metros (Chennai, Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi) (Business line, Urban pulse, Feb 2000) in India revealed several interesting things: Unlike the western world where dual careers are quite common, HR managers in Trends in HRM
India have not faced any additional challenges in the form of relocation efforts, job
sharing and job hunting exercises etc. The situation, however, may change in the
next couple of years especially in software, media, telecom sectors where the
number of women employees is rising steadily.
The survey of young executives underlined the importance of designing jobs around the individual, taking his career expectations into account. Flexible working hours, attractive compensation packages, job content and growth opportunities etc. may occupy the centre-stage in HR strategies of Indian managers in the days ahead.
Environmental challenges: Privatisation efforts in India are likely to gather momentum in the coming years, as most public sector units face survival problems. (For example Air India has 750 employees per aircraft, which makes it the most over-staffed airline in the world. Air India’s cost per employee is over Rs 5 lakh a year, perhaps highest among Indian public sector units. Likewise, Delhi Transport Corporation has 30,000 employees, of which 15,000 are excess and the annual expenditure on this excess staff works out to Rs 22 crore!) Mounting costs, rising
wage bills, increased competition, inefficient operations, outdated technology, debt burden etc. will compel many public sector units to either draw the shutters down or seek private sector partners. The burden if training and retraining employees with a view to make them more productive and useful under the new set-up is going to fall on the shoulders of HR managers. With this the legal stipulations covering recruitment and selection of employees, employment of reserved category employees, minorities etc. are also likely to lose their importance over a period of time.
Personnel function in future: The personnel function in future is going to evolve
thus:
i. Job redesign: The focus on job redesign will increase: Flexitime, job sharing
and alternative work arrangements will come to occupy a centre-stage.
ii. Career opportunities: Apart from compensation, personal growth and selfdevelopment
may become primary motives for working. HR managers may have to restructure work so that employees may find expression of their needs for creativity, autonomy and entrepreneurship (For example NIIT has already started the Netpreneur scheme in 2000 to encourage budding net consultants – either from its own ranks or outside) in their jobs.
iii. Productivity: “Productivity, efficiency, growth” are going to be the new mantras for corporate survival and growth.
iv. Recruitment and selection: Effective selection devices are likely to be used, giving premium to employee skills, knowledge, experience, ability to get along with people etc.
v. Training and development: As technologies change rapidly, people need to update their skills continuously. A much broader range of abilities is required to keep pace with ever-present changes, forcing companies to spend increasing sums on training and development. (For instance pharmaceutical majors like Dr Reddy Labs, Ranbaxy, Cipla, Sun Pharma have increased
their Research and Development budgets in response to WTO conditionalities in recent years).
vi. Rewards: Rewards will be tied to performance. Benefits will accrue to those who show merit. Individually – designed packages recognising talent may out-number group compensation plans. Carrot and stick policies may not find a place in the new corporate lexicon in the days ahead.
Changes in 21st century impacting HRM: Some of the current trends that would
have a significant impact on the way HR practices would get transformed in future
may be listed thus:
i. HR as a spacing board for success: Executives with people management skills would be able to steal the show, since they help integrate corporate goals with employee expectations in a successful way. Senior HR executives would be able to smoothly move into top management positions, using their soft skills to good advantage.
ii. Talent hunting, developing and retaining: Clear focus areas: The 21st century corporation would be looking for people with cross-functional expertise strong academic background and team management skills. The new recruits are is expected to utilise the scarce resources judiciously and produce excellent results- in line with the expectations of internal as well as external groups. As companies realise the importance of human element in gaining a sustainable competitive advantage, there would be a mad scramble for 'talent'. This would
in turn, compel corporate houses to pay close attention to talent acquisition development and retention through novel developmental efforts compensation packages and incentive schemes apart from flexible working schedules. More and more workers would be able to process information by working at homes, forcing companies to evaluate each employee’s contribution carefully and pay accordingly.
iii. Lean and mean organisations: Organisations will be forced to eliminate low-end job, say good-bye to older employees with limited skill-sets, out source work to specialised institutions in an attempt to save costs and remain highly competitive. As a result lay offs would occur and unemployment rates will go up; large outlays of cash may be required while buying out older employees and obtaining employee loyalty and commitment would be quite challenging
in such a scenario.
iv. Labour relations: Deregulation, privatisation, global competition and the like would in a way, mean the end of the road for trade unions. They will lose their count slowly but steadily. The political support enjoyed by them hitherto would also come down drastically. Economic compulsions would make both the employers and employees realise the folly of pulling down shutters or going on strike, however genuine the cause might be. Governmental influence in
labour-management relations would have only historical significance as employment-related issues begin to be dictated by market forces.
v. Health care benefits: To attract talented workforce healthier work environments would be an absolute necessity. Employees would be obliged to give their employees safe, healthy and secure work environments. Wellness programmes also need to be designed to help employees identify potential health risks and deal with them before they become problems. More
importantly, organisations need to pay more attention to issues such as office decor, furniture design, space utilisation with a view to improve the comfort levels of employees.

ORGANISATION OF HRM DEPARTMENT
The internal structure of a HRM or personnel department depends on various factors such as nature and size of the organisation, managerial preference to structure operations clearly, external forces etc. Small firms have only a single section, headed by a personnel officer taking care of everything. Medium sized firms may create a separate personnel department having experts in the personnel field supported by administrative staff. In large firms the structure of a personnel department may take various shapes, depending on organisational resources, competitive pressures and total employee strength. Let us examine this in - greater detail.
HRM Department in Line Organisation
Line structure is more common in small firms. In this structure authority flows in a direct line from supervisors to subordinates. Each employee knows who his superior is and who has the authority to issue orders. Managers have full authority (line authority) in their areas of operation and are responsible for final results. Line authority implies the right to give orders and to have decisions implemented. The “one-man- one-boss” principle is observed strictly. Authority relationships are clear and there is strict discipline as persons working at lower levels can have access to higher level officers only through their immediate bosses.
HRM Department in Functional Organisation
In any functional organisation, all activates of an organisation are divided into various functions such as production, marketing, finance etc. Each functional area is headed by a specialist who directs the activities of that area for the entire organisation. Every employee, therefore, is required to report to various functional heads. The functional head has line authority over subordinates in his own functional area. Additionally, he has functional authority over activities in other functional areas. The term 'functional authority' thus is a limited from of line authority given to functional experts in an area where certain specialised activities are carried out under the normal supervision of managers belonging to other departments.
Functional organisation has the great advantage of clarity. Every body has a home. It provides economy of scale within functions. It reduces duplication and waste. Functional heads can specialise and focus energies on a narrow area as they gain experience, expertise and competence over a period of time. The ‘effort focus’, however, puts
managers in a race. They tend to fight for power, resources and benefits. Every one tries to glorify his own field at the cost of others. Overlapping of authority and divided
responsibility further complicates the scenario.
In any functional organisation, all activates of an organisation are divided into various
functions such as production, marketing, finance etc. Each functional area is headed by a specialist who directs the activities of that area for the entire organisation. Every employee, therefore, is required to report to various functional heads. The functional head has line authority over subordinates in his own functional area. Additionally, he has functional authority over activities in other functional areas. The term 'functional authority' thus is a limited from of line authority given to functional experts in an area where certain specialised activities are carried out under the normal supervision of managers belonging to other departments. Functional organisation has the great advantage of clarity. Every body has a home. It provides economy of scale within functions. It reduces duplication and waste. Functional
heads can specialise and focus energies on a narrow area as they gain experience, expertise and competence over a period of time. The ‘effort focus’, however, puts managers in a race. They tend to fight for power, resources and benefits. Every one tries to glorify his own field at the cost of others. Overlapping of authority and divided responsibility further complicates the scenario.
HRM Department in Line and Staff Organisation
The line and staff structure combines the benefits of both line organisation and functional
organisation. Staff positions are created to assist line managers. Thus the personnel
department offers help and advice on personnel issues to all departments without violating
the unity of command principle.
HRM Department in a Divisionalised Organisational Structure
The role of a personnel manager attached to the divisional office/branch office or factory
of a decentralised organisation is particularly a difficult one. The Personnel manager at
divisional/branch level is responsible to the local divisional/branch manager in a line sense
and subordinate to the Manager-Personnel at head office in a staff or functional sense.
Personnel manager at divisional/branch level has to help the divisional/branch manager
in developing personnel programmes and in the management of personnel of the division/
branch concerned. The deputy manager personnel at the divisional level may contact the
manager-personnel at the head office to gain acceptance of the personnel programmes.
In case of rift between divisional manager and deputy manager, they may report their
difficulties to their common superior who in turn consults higher management for correct
decision. Similarly, the personnel officer at branch level may contact the deputy divisional
manager-personnel at divisional level to gain acceptance of the personnel programmes
and to get clarifications about personnel issues. In case of the rift between the branch
manager and branch personnel officer, they may report their issues to their superior at
divisional level. The branch personnel officer and branch manager may get the assistance
from the personnel manager at the head office, in solving the problems of crucial and
strategic nature as also those which cannot be solved at the branch/divisional level.
HRM Department in a Matrix Organisational Structure
In a matrix organisational structure, employees have two superiors, in that they are
under dual authority. One chain of command is functional and the other is a project team.
Hence, matrix structure is referred to as a multi-command system (both vertical and
horizontal dimension). Thus, the team of employees which comprise the personnel
department have two superiors, i.e., Personnel manager (vertical dimension) and Project
manager horizontal dimension. Both dimensions of structure are permanent and balanced,
with power held equally by both the functional head and a project manager


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