In today’s corporate scenario, the most important department that a company has is undoubtedly Human Resource Development Department. Let us look at the evolution of the 60s, the concept of HR was conceived for trade union management. It then slowly grew into the second generation HR where focus was applied on behavioural sciences.
In second generation HR, the system became more important than the outcome. Second generation HR professionals believed that if you changed human behaviour, the system would automatically function efficiently. Departments or teams were formed to facilitate training and management of human behaviour in an organization. The school of thought known as organizational behaviour also appeared. This studied the behaviour of employees in different situations and revolved HR around it. The first and second generation Hr served a much larger purpose than the role it plays today.
New age HR is commonly perceived as synonymous with recruitment, leave management, employee benefits, reviews and work environment. While this belief is not entirely misplaced, it constitutes just one aspect of it.
Having said this, an organization cannot do away with HR, as every work place comprises individuals who are the most important asset in any company. So, what is the role of HR? Does it end with selection and placement, or are there various other responsibilities that are either overlooked or disregarded? HR does comprise of recruitment, as it is essential to hire individuals who fit into the organisation. But the responsibilities do not end there. HR managers today have to make certain that the employee’s tenure at the organization is longer and more productive. Finding the right candidate for the job is just the first step. Attrition rates and productivity are the focal areas of consideration.
HR is also moving its focus beyond traditional paper-based process execution to applications that visibly improve the speed, quality and outcome of a process. Over the last few years, there have been drastic improvements to HR support applications. At present, there are automated Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) as well as benefits management systems that assist employees in managing their facilities and incentives. Because of this aspect, the role of HR is changing. HR decisions need to be focused towards the common goal of supporting business decisions. HR managers therefore have to administer systems to foster effective decision-making abilities in individuals. The ultimate goal is to produce a leader for tomorrow. While making a decision, the quality of the decision itself is very important. To permit DSM, the HR manager should identify vital indicators of success within himself, the employees and the company. The indicators act as a framework to facilitate the decision-making process.
The quality of the decisions also depends on identifying appropriate outcome measures in all aspects of decision-making. The outcome should be long-term and not short-term. HR is about administering the system to get an outcome and not ensuring that a system is in place, but still does not provide the necessary outcome. Even while recruiting, the long-term objective is to ensure that employees work with the organisation for a longer and productive period.
It is also important to develop latent talent of employees in an organization, which ultimately impact the quality of their decision-making abilities. However, the investment in HR programmes should not be directed solely at individuals who are in the ‘high talent’ category. High performance individuals already have enhanced talent and they are usually driven by the desire to perform. Individuals who have great potential, but who are not performing up to the optimum level should be given special importance.
HR, as mentioned earlier, is much more than just recruitment. The role of senior HR managers is mainly focused towards delivering customer needs. In this case, employees in other departments are equivalent to customers.
HR managers should play an influential role in various departments, like marketing communications, logistics and finance. Their contribution and should be able to influence the performance of the organization and should be recognized by employees as an initiative that makes a positive difference to the company.
HR is taking a more pro-active role today in the organization. It improves the operational outcomes directly. HR managers have to view their job with a broader perspective and that is vital to the company. Ultimately, the trend is changing to being a business manager and rather than a simple advisor.
The Academy of Human Resources Development, India (established in 1991), based in Ahmedabad, is a centre for Research and Education in India. It holds round table and other conferences, conducts doctoral level fellowships and other education and training programs to prepare HRD professionals and has a number of publications.