Human Resource Management (HRM) changed a lot over the last couple of years. The recent developments have changed the role of managers, duties and responsibilities of employees, as well as advancement of strategies for motivating personnel in an organization (Kaufman, 2008). Managers in an organization are experiencing more challenges in managing people in the 21st Century because of the complexity of modern workplaces.
Application of HRM strategies in the contemporary world focuses on developing strategies for dealing with a more diverse workforce, a dynamic workplace, and the need for effective change management. Diversity in the workforce is very important to organizational success and achieving a competitive advantage (Kumar, 2003). HRM strategies in the contemporary work environment focus more on increasing diversity in the workforce.
Individuals of different cultural backgrounds, religions, race, ages, sexual orientation, and skin color characterize diversity in the modern workplace. Managers should ensure that all these individuals work together as a team for the sake achieving organizational goals. Employees have different skills, competences, levels of experience, and varying levels of passion that can help an organization to have a strong workforce capable of achieving prolonged success.
HRM in the 21st century focuses more on identifying various diversities in an organization’s workforce and developing them. The rate of technological development coupled with the high rate of globalization have increased pressure on leaders to develop effective strategies for managing human resources in the 21st Century (Kaufman, 2008).
Organizational leaders managing people in the 21st Century have a harder task compared to a couple of years ago. The concept of HRM was first developed and applied in 1970s (Ahmad, 2003). Very little technological advancement, a less dynamic workforce, very few people to manage, as well as few duties and responsibilities characterized this era of managing human resources. During the 1970s, organizational leaders tasked with managing human resources in an organization were known as personnel managers.
The role of personnel managers was quite different from what human resource managers do with the contemporary workforce (Ahmad, 2003). Their main roles included developing and maintaining employee records, assessment of employee performance, designing compensation packages for various jobs, as well as overseeing the recruitment and selection process. From the nature of their duties and responsibilities, personnel managers did not have much influence on organizational process like human resource managers do in the contemporary workplace (Kumar, 2003).
Studies show that people considered the work of personnel managers as easy compared to other management positions in an organization (Kaufman, 2008). The fact that qualification for the position of personnel manager was easier necessitated this majority opinion. An individual’s competencies and job experience were not enough to qualify one as a personnel manager because it was important for potential candidates to have an outgoing personality. People who demonstrated a strong ability to relate well with everyone in an organization received the first priority when considerations for position of personnel managers happened (Deb, 2006).
An individual’s competencies and leadership skills were less considered because the position did not involve complex duties and responsibilities. The concept of HRM at this time, did not value employees that much compared to the contemporary time. In the past, employees were considered as liabilities to organizations because they did not add any value in terms of revenue growth and profitability. The human resource department was one of the classified cost centers in an organization (Taylor, 2005). At the time, organizations were focusing more on the acquisition of fixed assets instead of human assets.
HRM in the 21st century is characterized by a professional approach that focuses more on acknowledging the value of employees and their role in achieving organizational success (Kumar, 2003). Organizational leaders have more duties and responsibilities. Managers in the contemporary work environment ought to have certain skills, competences, and level of experience in order to manage the modern workforce in an effective manner. Employees have gained more influence towards organizational success, as they are getting more involved in organizational processes such as the decision-making process (Deb, 2006).
Managing people in the contemporary work environments incorporates various strategies to motivate employees towards giving their best output towards achieving organizational goals. Managers are more involved with the things that employees do, they way they do them, their desired outcomes, and career goals. HRM in the 21st century has an orientation towards employees, as organizations advance their bid to achieve a competitive advantage and prolonged success around their human resources (Deb, 2006).
Studies have shown that a strong, united, and happy workforce is the difference between successful and unsuccessful organizations in the contemporary work environment (Kaufman, 2008). Strategic human resource management helps organizations to be effective and efficient. Contemporary application of HRM also focuses on promoting ethical practices through the organizational culture.
Managers have the responsibility to ensure that they create an ethical workforce that strives to achieve the common good (Taylor, 2005). HRM today also focuses on aligning an organization to meet the demands of the contemporary business environment in terms of integrating the latest technology, meeting employee demands, and effective management of change.
The development, application, and the role of human resource management in an organization have evolved a lot over the last couple of years. Human resource managers in the modern workplace environment were once called personnel managers. In addition, the value of employees to an organization has grown from being liabilities to valuable assets. Human resource departments have also evolved from cost centers into productivity centers, as employees now have more influence in organizational processes. Human resource managers in the contemporary work environment have the challenge of dealing with a more diverse workforce, dynamic workplace environment, and a strong need for effective change management caused by globalization.
Ahmad, S 2003, Technical Change with Human Resources, Discovery Publishing House, New Jersey.
Deb, T 2006, Strategic Approach to Human Resource Management, Atlantic Publishers, California.
Kaufman, B 2008, Managing the Human Factor: The Early Years of Human Resource Management in American Industry, Cornell University Press, New York.
Kumar, H 2003, Human Resource Management in the 21st Century, Cambridge University Press, California.
Taylor, T 2005, People Resourcing, Cengage learning, New York.