Emerging Issues in Human Resource Management
India has observed many changes in its political, social and economical structure since independence. However, the most prominent ones were introduced by the New Economic Policy, 1991. These changes have resulted into debureaucratisation, decontrol, delicensing, globalization, privatization of Indian economy (Sapru, 1999). Consequently, corporate have adopted various new technologies and practices in order to become more competitive and efficient. The Companies that once considered specialization, job description and price as core of their action were initiated emphasizing on speed, integration, job flexibility and value (Reddy G Sreenivas and Ravi Desari, 2006). However, in the race of earning maximum profits the corporate elapsed to analyze the future impact of their new strategies. Accordingly, the corporate are facing many negative consequences of their activities which are not only risky for employers, but for employees also. Further, the dynamic external and internal organization environment is also adding fuel into it. It all has resulted in emergence of various corporate issues in present scenario. Due to the limited scope, this paper is concern only with the Human Resource Management issues of an organization. So this article is the modest attempt to analyses the emerging issues in Human Resource Management, their reasons, elucidation and resolution.
HRM Challenges in Present Scenario
Human resources among themselves are complex in nature and their management is still a biggest challenge for today’s corporate. As per the Scott and others also, “Human resources management is that branch of management which is responsible on staff basis for concentrating on those aspects of relationship of management to employees and employees to employees and with the development of the individual and the group. The objective is to attain the maximum individual development, desirable working relationship between employers and employees and employees and employees, and effective moulding of human resources as contrasted with physical resources”. Further, being the only active asset of an organization, the human resources have become the valuable key of success to achieve the competitive advantage.
However, due to factors like multinational, multicultural and multi skill workforce; more involvement of women and elderly employee; digital information age; major shift in corporate preference from manufacturing to service sector; technical advancement; manpower redundancy; change in the Psychological Contact between employer and employee; labour reforms etc. along with environmental changes, the management of human resources have become more difficult for corporate in comparison to earlier decades. It has also resulted into emergence of many issues in present scenario in regard to Human Resource Management.
Emerging issues in HRM
The New Indian Economic Policy, 1991 transformed the national economy as Liberalized, Privatized and Globalized. These changes in the economic scenario demanded quick restructuring, modernization, upgradation of technology and adoption of global standards, in addition to more skilled and productive manpower. The cost competitiveness, high productivity along with the competitive edge of global quality standards, have further emerged as the major challenge and key of survival for present organizations. Accordingly, Corporate had to adopt various cost cutting strategies including “redundancy management” (Sinha and Srivastava, 1995). As the earlier socialistic approach of Indian economy emphasized on employment generation, resulted over manning in various organizations (Das and Das, 2009).
In order to achieve higher productivity at lower cost, the corporate adopted technology up gradation, automation, restructuring and various other strategies for efficiency up gradation. The above practices have further led to surplus manpower in many organizations.
In view of the prevailing Protectionist Labour laws in India, employers usually prefer VRS among various alternatives like retrenchment, Layoff etc. But at times, these VR Schemes were found involuntary in nature. These VR Schemes had also adversely impact the socio- economic conditions of many VRS opted employees. Due to all these factors, VRS is now also criticized by the socialists, NGOs and scholars on various dimensions.
However, various other options are available for rightsizing of manpower which are beneficial for employees also. Available options could be Phased Retirement (Hutchens and Grace-Martin, 2006), expansion and diversification of business areas, Penetration in new markets, Retraining of employees and their placement on other jobs etc.
Globalization of trade necessitated the employment of multinational, multicultural and multilingual workforce. This diversified workforce has a variation not only in nature but also defers in age group, personality, profession, work culture etc., geographically located at far off places on the globe. Therefore, the management of the diversified workforce is a real challenge in the present scenario.
Organisational conflicts usually crop up among the diversified workforce due to the difference of attitudes, values, assumptions, racism, prejudice etc., leading to high level of turnover, absenteeism, poor team work, communication barrier, time in implementation, and much more. Further, due to outsourcing, off shoring and in sourcing, managers of MNCs also have to manage the local populations of different countries which differ in many aspects.
However, corporate are trying their best to resolve these issues as far as possible. But through adopting certain initiatives like Quarterly/ Half year Global team reviews consisting conferences, meeting or planning sessions to facilitate the networking among team members of the same team spread across global location; Computer based training; Video books etc., (Aswathappa and Sadhna, 2008,p-186) their effectiveness may enhance several folds. Beside this, management could succeed in managing diversified workforce by organizing the functions on the occasion of national-international festivals, posting few employees to different national-international location of companies, job rotation, enhancing worker participation in decision making also.
With the globalization of markets, the expectations and demands of consumers have increased many times. The consumers are demanding not only the innovative products with more utility and after sale services, but also appreciate the best quality product at competitive rates. Therefore the competitions among organizations have increased tremendously. In order to produce the quality products in short durations, the organizations have adopted various strategies like outsourcing, off shoring, in sourcing etc.
The brands and the innovative world of advertisement are also playing the significant role in attracting the consumers. To establish Brands, various certification / standards e.g. ISO certification like ISO 9004:2000 for Quality Management system, guidelines for performance improvement etc., ( ISO standard Glossary) etc. are essential. Since the competitive and efficient human resource is the master key to the expected quality, therefore Human Resources play a vital role in achieving high quality standards.
Further, in addition to the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality obsession is also significant for improvement of quality of the product. “The approach of Quality Obsession is an amalgamation of procedures, people and passion to produce superior product. Quality Obsession, in turn, can only be achieved through worker’s participation, involvement appreciation and commitment in improving the key processes. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) introduced some innovative and novel approaches like Quality through Measurement (QTM) and Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to bring attitudinal changes for achieving quality obsession” (Ashok Kumar Jain, 2008, p-025).
In the world of cut throat competition, Talent Management has appeared as the ‘Mantra’ of continued existence and success for the organizations. Talent acquisition and retention has emerged as a key concern for corporate in present scenario. During recession, where many companies downsized their manpower, many other employers were succeeded to attract the talent in competitive rates to build their competitive advantage. It all has resulted into the talent war in post recession period. Many companies have also introduced the concept of “flexible pay structure including bonus, performance rated pay, high performance pay, contract pay, cash awards etc.,” (Chandramohan, 2008, p-281) to attract and retain the talent. However, the attrition rate is still high in many sector of economy. It may be due to the increasing in expectation, aspiration and career demand of employees. “Even more than 60% of employees have virtually no real engagement with their companies and stay put more out of inertia and lack of choice than a real attraction to the company “(The Economic Times, p-17,16 Aug 2010).
However, this talent war could not be completely concluded among the companies, but through integrated approach of companies, it could become more ethical. As in the case of “Twenty eight residents of Hinjewadi, including top names like Infosys, TCS, Cognizants and Wipro, that once ruthlessly poached talent from each other, have now agreed to work collectively to reduce attrition. However, they managed to seal a pact under which they will hire from rivals only after candidates have fully served out notice period. The companies have also agreed that the new employees cannot join without a relieving letter from the previous employer” (The Economic Times, 15 July 2010).
While surplus as well as shortage of talent can leads to closure of an organization, thus organizations should adopt the practices like HR accounting, effective internal training programs and retention of talent during recession period etc., so as to manage their talent effectively.
The importance of Trade unions cannot be ignored in context of industrial relations and development. The trade unions though its noteworthy efforts ranging from employees protection against management’s unethical practices; employee development; collective bargaining; maintaining harmonious Industrial relation to helping management in achieving high productivity, have enhanced the industrial progress enormously. “Trade unions have shown cooperation where necessary and when it is sought from them by the management. There are several instances where trade unions have understood the financial position of the company and have offered the cooperation in several ways” (p-591, IJIR, APRIL2010).
However in past few years, trade unions have lost its imperial position and importance due to many reasons. The political affiliation, small size, irregular growth, weak financial position, increase in the number of trade unions, inter union rivalry, recognition problem, lack of interest among members, and opposition from employers have further lowered its importance in industrial prospect (Gupta, 2008). According to Datt also, due to sub-contracting, replacement of regular worker by contract worker, lockouts, labour flexibility, repression of working class by state, Judicial reasons, highly paid workers, outsourcing the position of trade unions has weaken in India. He also added that, “The unions are faced with two sets of challenges: first, they have to convince blue-collar workers to shed their class arrogance and be part of the broad labour movement; second, the trade unions have to force the government not to go ahead declaring any sector as ‘ public utility’ “(Datt).
Therefore, the need of the time is that the government should develop a proper legislative frame work to empower and regulate the trade unions. Beside this, through, amalgamation of trade unions; coordination; effective leadership the position of trade unions could be enhanced in India. It may further help in solving many major industrial issues like casualization of workers. As, “the number of contract workers in total workers in the organized manufacturing industry in India has increased from 14.6 per cent in 1995-96 to 26.4 percent in 2004-05” (Goldar, 2009IJIR, April 2010).
Now a day’s, Stress has become the part of everyone life, especially among working class. Workplace stress has shown its influence not only on individual employee’s, but the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness is also get affected ( Singh Sanjay Kumar, oct 2009, IJIR). The factors like role ambiguity, conflicting performance expectation, organization politics, co-worker relations, individual socio-economic conditions, family background, personality traits etc., have contributed much in stress development at workplace (Edwards, 2001; Manshor, 2000; Deary & Blenkin, 1996)
It has been found that the employees are taking the help of pills to enhance their performance and effectiveness at workplace. Cases of death due to drug overdose have been reported in corporate world. “The demand to buckle up and meet targets and bottom lines has, in the past too, led to the instances of substance abused by employees. With the salaries going up, rewards being liked to performance and variable pay touching never before 40-45% of the salaries, companies are driving their employees to increase their output” (The Economic Times, 18 March, 2011).
However, there exist only one effective key of stress management that is happiness. Nobel laureate and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer, also said,” Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success”. “Social scientists provide empirical evidence that some of the key facets of a workplace include the qualities of environment, sense of purpose, feeling of ownership; social embededness, empowerment and autonomy, and these could be the real source of happiness” (The Economic Times, 18 March, 2011).
Beside this, emotional intelligence may further help the employees to certain extend in managing the stress. Emotional intelligence can be defined as “a set of non-cognitive abilities that influence one’s ability to get on in life, working synergistically with IQ to enhance performance and it is the one that differentiates expectational from mediocre performance” (Orme & Cannon, 2000). “In many of the studies, the findings indicate that a sustainable focus on emotional intelligence contributes hugely towards building competitive advantage” (e.g Cooper 1997, Cooper & Sawaf 1997). “It is believed that as emotional intelligence is a conditional response, it not only can be developed, but also honed, over time to encompass various situational horizons including personal tragedies and shocking situations “(Parthasarthy, 2009).
Recent crime trends and sophistication of adversaries have revealed serious threats to the corporate. Now criminals have full support of technical advancement for their jobs. The Security scenario at international as well as national level is rapidly shifting due to prevailing terrorism, extremism, naxalism activities.
Physical security has become a part of industrial security, which now includes personnel security, preventive and protective security measures against sabotage, terrorist attacks, espionage, subversion, other sinister activities and massive fires, in addition to the natural calamities.
In order to meet the challenges adduced above, the Industrial Security Systems are required to be upgraded. Security and access control systems have to be integrated with proper mix of human elements and Modern Electronic Technical Security devices for more efficient and cost effective security set-up.
In addition to above, matter like, HR measurement indicating improvement in business processes (M.Srimannarayana IJIR,vol45); use of Potential appraisal in HRM practices and poor implementation of integrated HRD systems approach (T.V Rao, p66) are also among some of the emerging issues of HRM in present scenario.