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HRM Ever Evoloving

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HRM - Ever Evoloving


Thesis Statement: Advances in technology along with shifts in the nations' social structure heavily impact the workplace environment, creating a need for new management models in Human Resources.

I. The Changing Workplace

A. An Historical Perspective of Jobs in America

B. Jobs in the 21st Century

II. Identifying Corporate Needs

A. The Emergence of Human Resource Management as a Component of General Management.

B. Corporate Expectations

III. Developing Human Resource Policy

A. What HRM Professionals Have to Say

IV. Identifying Worker Needs

A. Family VS Work

B. The Working Environment

C. Benefits and Compensation

V. Where to From Here? - HRM Models for Innovation

A. Motivation Theory

B. Alternate Work Systems - a Comparrison Table

This paper is written from the perspective that Human Resource Management (HRM) practices are continually evolving to meet the changes of dynamic work environments. New technologies, increasingly rapid exchanges of information, social paradigm shifts and the restructuring of family systems contribute heavily to the need to find and apply methods of HRM that meet the needs of industry, workers and consumers. To do so effectively, vision and creativity are required in addition to on-going awareness of the bottom line.

The Changing Workplace

At the opening of the 20th century, the majority of jobs in America were held in two areas, agriculture and industry. Population distribution tables for that time demonstrate that most of the nation inhabited rural areas rather than urban areas. This continued to be the trend up until WWII, when men left the country to fight and women left rural America to fill factory jobs as their contribution to the war effort. This movement was the beginning of nationwide workplace and societal changes that have accelerated during the last half of the 20th century.

The move from rural to suburban environments changed the way we did business as a nation. Where extended families resided in and supported each other in culturally defined rural settings, nuclear families found themselves alone in homogenous neighborhoods. (1) This created a demand for goods and services that were formerly provided by extended family and community members, opening up new markets and creating jobs. It also created the need to recognize the management of workers as a separate and formal discipline.

As we move into the 21st century we can trace our nations' business growth over the last 100 years. We moved from an agrarian base to an industrial one. By the mid-50s' the majority of jobs were found in factories. Manufacturing suffered heavy blows during the late 60's and early seventies and was displaced by the service industry. With the closing of the 20th century those services have become increasingly technological.

Surviving those changes requires adaptation, not only in the retooling of physical plants and the retraining workers, but also in the way we manage those workers. Some feel that there appears to be an underlying theme in books and papers on the subject of HRM, that there is only one correct way to manage people. (2) Maslow on Management offers a much different approach, demonstrating conclusively that one size does not fit all; i.e., that different people need to be managed differently.

HMR models operating on the assumption that there is a single right way to manage people are using workplace criteria that are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The 'one way' model views people working for an organization as employees who work full time and are solely dependent on that organization for their livelihood and their careers. These employees generally were viewed as subordinates with limited or very narrow skill sets. (3)

These images of the worker may have been valid several decades ago. However, today every one of these images has become insupportable. While the majority of people working for an organization may be classified as employees, a very large and steadily growing minority - by working for the organization - no longer work as employees, but instead as outsource contractors.

The concept of subordinate positions is fading as well, even in those areas that are considered fairly low level. As technology becomes increasingly more complex special knowledge is required in all operations. Subordinates, increasing their skill sets, become associates. The secretary, with knowledge of specialized software, becomes the Administrative Assistant. In order for the organization to run smoothly, the individual who does his job well, often has more knowledge about his job than his boss. (4) For example, the vice president of marketing may know a great deal about selling, but nothing about market research, pricing, packaging, service, or sales forecasting. Workers in these positions may report to the vice president, but are often experts in their own areas.

Identifying Corporate Needs.

Formerly, lower technological expectations and a firmly established hierarchy allowed general managers to delegate narrowly defined personnel responsibilities to those functioning as specialists. Today however, such practices would be inefficient to the point of being considered static, and must be replaced. To fail to do so would be to ignore and fail to address the many unprecedented pressures that demand a comprehensive and more strategic view in relation to the organizations' human resources.

From the view point of General Management, what does the organization need? The General Mangement picture of HRM is viewed from a global perspective, as demonstrated by a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs in 1989. The results of that survey determined that effective management of Human Resources must address corporate needs in the eight following areas:

1. Increasing international competition makes the need for greatly improved human production mandatory. The crisis experienced in both the automobile and steel industries serve as clear illustrations. Foreign management practices, particularly Japanese management models, are being used to guide developing HRM techniques, especially those that seem to increase employee commitment while providing companies with a long term source of workers with necessary competencies and skills.

2. As organizations increase in size and complexity layer upon layer of management has resulted in expensive, but not particularly effective, bureaucracies. Multiple layers of management also serve to isolate workers from the competitive environment in which organizations operate

as well as company policy makers. It's hoped that a reduction of middle management layering will put workers closer to the competitive environment, fostering commitment to the organization as well as sharpening the competitive edge. Multinational companies have additional challenges in managing human resources, and need to adapt policies to work within diverse cultures and vastly different social values.

3. Some companies may face declining markets or slower growth, handicapping the organizations' ability to offer advancement opportunities and job security. How then to attract and retrain a competent and highly skilled work force?

4. Greater government involvement in human resource practices generates a need to re-examine HRM policies and mandates the development of new policies. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act forced the revision of HRM policies in companies across the nation.

5. America's workforce has become increasingly more educated making it necessary to rethink assumptions about employee capabilities and the delegation of responsibilities. Under utilization of employee talent is a major cause of workforce turnover.

6. Expectations and the values of the workforce are changing, particularly those values and expectations relative to authority. This fosters a need to reexamine how much involvement and influence workers should be given. Means of voicing employee concerns and addressing those concerns with due process need to be provided.

7. As workers become more concerned with life and career satisfaction corporations are revisiting traditional career paths and seeking more alternative career paths that take into consideration employee lifestyle needs.

8. Demographic shifts in the workforce, particularly the infusion of women and minorities into organizations, are causing corporations to reexamine all policies, practices and values that impact the treatment, responsibilities, and advancement of these groups. (5)

Developing Human Resource Policies

How do universal General Management issues affect HRM departments and practices? While narrower in scope than those concerns voiced by General Management, impact areas identified by HRM professionals closely mirrored major corporate needs identified by General Managers.

Human Resource professionals, in an effort to meet the needs of both worker and organization, have examined ways to ensure a desired working environment while increasing productivity. In the early 1990s, the advisory board of the Commerce Clearing House were asked to identify the issues that they felt would shape the role of human resource functions in the next decade. Commerce Clearing House advisory board members saw four main HRM areas where current issues would influence the role of the human resource function in the near future: compensation; communication and personnel practices; employment relations; and Equal Employment Opprtunity requirments. (6)

Compensation issues focused on the diversity of worker needs, pay-for-performance plans, and the regulation of employee benefit plans. Flexibility and adaptability in HRM practices are primary keys in addressing worker needs. Job sharing, staggered scheduling and flex time are some of the outcomes generated by creative approaches to HRM practices. Pay-for-performance plans hold the allure of rewarding productivity while providing monetary motivation. Successful implementation of such practices, however, require effective performance evaluations. To attempt such compensation without valid, reliable, and standard assessment instruments is to court litigation.

Fairness is a national concern strongly affecting human resource managers. Personnell plansfocused soley on organizational needs must be abandoned to benefit workers and organizations alike. One example is the growing social phenomena of two career couples. As the numbers increase nepotism policies must be reexamined. Managing change and preparing people for change also require HRM professionals to rethink policy. New demands for an increase in functions such as retraining evolve as workers move through change.

Training and professional development are crucial in all areas of operation. Even the lowest clerk needs to stay abreast of the latest innovations brought on by technical advancement. The march of technology, however, not only changes jobs, it makes some of them redundant or obsolete. In an era of company reconfiguration it becomes apparent that layoffs and divestirtures will occur when retraining isn't an option. Outplacement policies must be considered and developed in preparation of the need. HRM professionals also understand the need for the development of effective HR auditing instruments to measure employee perceptions of management fairness and the climate for effective communication within the company. The information obtained by employee attitude surveys can be greatly beneficial to supervisors, but only if they've been trained to use it. (7)

The legal environment of personnell management is many fingered and quite comprehensive. In addition to regulations stemming from the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), passed in 1970, HRM is greatly affected by the broad umbrella of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulation. As well as protecting workers form discrimination based on race, color, or creed, EEO serves workers in many other areas. Age discrimination also falls under this umbrella. With an increasing number of age discrimination suits, organizations need to develp a sensitvity to age issues and policy specific to older employees.

A recent off shoot of EEO is the American with Disablities Act (ADA). ADA has created a need for new policies and procedures in accommidating employees with handicaps and disabilities. The emerging legal view that Acquired Immune Deficiancy Syndrome (AIDS) is a handicap brings policy questions about AIDS testing to the forefront. There is great potential for conflict in providing for the needs of other employees and creates an HRM channel that must be carefully navigated.

Benefit plans that are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) require special attention. Companies must be prepared to provide resources that not only offer such plans but also impeccably manage those employee benefit plans. Failure to do so will lead to subsequent suits by employees challenging plans that are out of compliance with ERISA disclosure, reporting and fiduciary standards are problematic.

Governemnt regulation is also partly responsible for shifting attention from union group representation to regulations and policies that emphasize the rights of individual employees. It is mandatory that this factor be taken into consideration in personnel planning and policy making. The role of unions as bargaining units is on the decline and will continue to diminish as bargaining relationships become increasingly stable. This translates to decreased strike activity and fewer actions filed with the ...

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Keywords: hr evolving, evolving hr trends, hrm evolving role in the 21st century, hr evolved over the years

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