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Human Resource Management in the 21st Century

Abstract

The survival of any and indeed all business ventures undoubtedly depends on the workforce put in place to oversee and spearhead the process of meeting the day-to-day objectives of any corporation. The human resource refers to the human assets of an organization or corporation tasked with the responsibility of controlling the running of the business. It is understood that the human resource has emerged to be one of the greatest assets a business could possess. In addition, it could be the decisive factor in determining whether a business will thrive or will go down the drain. This highlights the intention and purpose of every entrepreneur at the time of setting up a business, profit making, and general success.

Human resource as a factor in corporative development began in the early nineteenth century. At the time, small businesses, mostly family-owned and agricultural farm set-ups were the few organizations that took it up. The role of the human resource at the time was limited to undertaking the duties assigned and following up on any other roles. Towards the end of the century, human resource began to take a more serious and worthwhile role in the workplace. This can largely be attributed to the industrial revolution that came with the need to hire workers who would ply their trade in the factories. The need to create a department that would be responsible for the affairs of such workers arose and that marked the beginning of the use of human abilities as a factor that can bring change in the corporate world. Thus, human resource management was created because of the need to take care of the welfare of workers.

Human Resource Management

The 21st century has been the witness of the most drastic and life-changing revolutions, particularly in the last few decades. It has overseen the onslaught of the Internet, the mobile phone, telecommunication industry, and generally the technological advancement era. These major changes have been due to the innovativeness of the human workforce in the respective organizations. Through better and improved management styles, the human workforce in such organizations has been able to achieve fetes that only a few years ago were considered science fiction and unattainable dreams (Price 2007).

Human resource management on its own also remains one of the strong contenders for the aspects that have witnessed massive transformation and changes in the last two decades. A few decades ago, the mention of human resource management elicited narrower thinking and opinion as regarded the topic. It was common to find most people associating human resource management with the basic and limited roles of hiring and firing employees (Lengnick, 2009). Unknown to them, human resource management was slowly taking a new look and was embracing and encompassing an array of other functions and form. Indeed, at some point in history, the roles of human resource management appeared to be limited to hiring employees and disposing them off if they could not perform the assigned jobs to the expected standards. However, today the situation is a complete turn-around from what used to be witnessed and believed. Over the past few decades, there has been a major transformation in human resource management as regards functionality and form (Berman, 2012). The changes that have taken place in human resource management so far are by no means the end of the story. With a richly diverse and talented workforce and management system, the future only looks brighter for this essential, yet underestimated factor in the corporate world.

Previously, human resource management has been associated with staffing more than any other activity. It is the key role of the human resource managers and the department as a whole. However, the function of staffing gets the seriousness that it deserves. It has revolutionized and deviated from the earlier undertakings of managers and entrepreneurs to hire friends, relatives, and close associates (Kossek, 2000). With the realization that the human resource determines whether a business makes it or breaks it, entrepreneurs and corporations have adopted the practice of hiring quality and efficient staff members. The process of hiring alone has become more intense than it was a few decades ago. Corporations and organizations today have their own vetting boards that undertake the interviewing of the potential staff members. Most organizations are emphasizing the need for talent and qualification (Sistare 2009). It is, therefore, no wonder that there has been a mad rush for university and college education among soon-to-be employees. This has not come without challenges though, as a good number of people engage in underhand methods to avoid competition and land the coveted job(s). In the near future, staffing is likely to undergo the further transformation, and it is expected that companies will neither limit nor major their criteria to academic qualifications and achievements only but will put more emphasis on other equally crucial elements.

An emerging issue that is gaining grounds in the hiring and staffing aspect of human resource management is the use of the Internet. Corporations are increasingly adopting specialization, which involves concentrating in their aspect of trade and hiring external organizations to help them run other departments of their business on their behalf. In this regard, most corporations are delegating out the duty of hiring workers to Internet-based organizations, which conduct interviews on behalf of the corporation. These organizations then present the corporation with a list of the shortlisted and suitable candidates who have already been vetted. As a result, the corporation is left with the simple task of picking the candidates that meet the criteria and qualifications needed for the job. This mode of hiring employees is slowly but surely gaining grounds, considering the reason that most corporations find it time-consuming engaging in interviews and vetting processes. The employees tasked with the duty of conducting the interviews have a chance of engaging in other worthwhile activities.

Human resource management also has the duty of ensuring that strategies put in place to meet the corporation's objectives are met. Implementation of strategies is one of the few sure ways of ensuring success is achieved in the business (Krafft, 2010). For a long time, the labor force in organizations has been responsible for carrying out the day-to-day activities of the business. In fact, day to day running of operations in the corporation has been the main role of the workforce. However, this narrow perception is gradually finding its way out, and a more involving approach is coming to life. Initially, the task of making decisions was a reserve of the managers and administrators in corporations (Price, 2007). After research and analysis revealed that this was a poor way of management, many corporations have been in the frontline in bringing a change unto this effect. Research revealed that it was imprudent for the high and mighty in corporations and organizations to make decisions that affect staff members without involving them. Research further demonstrated that this was one of the factors that contributed immensely to lack of job satisfaction and further enhanced job mobility. Unimpressed workers left their jobs in search of better working conditions causing job mobility as an effect to skyrocket. Nowadays, few corporations come up with decisions affecting employees without seeking their opinion. Decision-making is no longer a preserve of the managers only (Price 2007). Employees are increasingly being given key roles to play in decision-making processes. Since the staff members are important in enabling the corporation to sustain a competitive and profitable business venture, many administrators are taking their contribution with a lot more seriousness and consideration. For instance, in his first few days at work as the new Nokia chief executive officer, Stephen Elop sent an email to each staff member of Nokia. In his email, he asked each employee to give his or her opinion on the things he should change and those he should leave as they were. The response he got from the employees was impressive. After an analysis, Elop was able to come up with strategies that would prove decisive in turning round the fortunes of the company. Initially, Nokia had been a successful mobile phone and software manufacturing company. When other companies with better, technologically advanced products such as Samsung and iPhone came in the scene, Nokia has left a pale shadow of itself. The newly appointed chief executive officer knew very well how crucial an improved human resource management was necessary for the comeback of the company (Rubin 2012). Elop's plan of involving employees in decision making worked as today, Nokia remains a force to reckon in the mobile phone and software manufacturing industry.

The determinant of survival and success of a business is its ability to adapt and cope with the changes in its environment. Today's business environment remains overwhelmingly and uncharacteristically uncertain and turbulent. Market demands keep fluctuating customer preferences, and loyalty keep shifting, and cutthroat competition is on the increase (Berman 2012). With all these challenges, it goes without saying that there exists one tested and proven the way of improvising the business environment for the success of the firm. Proper utilization and management of the human resource can present the opportunity for a business to bring a change to its fortunes. A qualified, talented and dedicated workforce will help the business to cope with the uncertain business environment (Kossek, 2000). Qualified personnel helps a corporation narrow down and focus on adaptability, service delivery, and product enhancement. Competent staff members serve not just as good ambassadors of the business but also as sellers of the brand of the business. They help build the name of the business positively enabling it to remain competitive (Sistare, 2009). Today, many businesses have invested in obtaining qualified and competent staff members. With such a workforce, the business could well be ruled out to be on its way to achieving enhanced efficiency and lowering the costs. A competent workforce saves the corporation time. Mistakes and errors that could result in losses, for instance, lawsuits are minimized while at the same time improvements in service delivery are made (Krafft, 2010). The objective of all businesses is to improve their service delivery and products in order to get higher returns. Many corporations are taking up research and market analysis in order to stay averse with the changing market trends. One way in which such corporations are doing this is through the staff members. In most of these corporations, every opportunity to interact with a customer is a chance to dig out more on the emerging trends. The human resource (the employees) are in this case not just used for delivering services but also for finding out more on market trends to ensure the business stays in line with the changing needs and desires of its customers. In this way, they help the business adapt to the dynamism of the business world.

Human resource management is today geared towards customer satisfaction. In the past, many corporations were bent towards the type of product they availed in the market and paid little attention to the customer needs and desires (Lengnick, 2009). In this context, the corporations specialized in the production of goods and services without giving much thought to the intended customer and how the product would affect his or her life. Such is the woe that bedeviled Nokia. As a software manufacturing company, Nokia was for a long time product oriented. Most of its undertakings were aimed at improving and innovating new products. The company did not lay much emphasis on the most important aspect of the business such as customers. By the time, it realized that most of its products did not meet customer needs; its profit margins were already on a downward spiral and its fortunes dwindling. Nokia is only one of the many companies affected. The company, however, sprung back from this set back and in the past few years has made customer concerns its point of reference. This is the importance that follows human resource management in today's business world. With the effective workforce, the limit to what a corporation can achieve is immeasurable. Companies with this conviction have taken advantage and tapped the opportunity. They have developed a customer oriented, aggressive, and employee minded approach to business. Taking care of the employees' interests goes a long way in enabling the employees to inculcate job loyalty and job satisfaction (Kossek, 2000). With the employees realizing how potentially crucial they are to corporations, they are finding it easy to move from one job to another. Corporations would do well holding onto such employees, especially the outstanding ones in order to cut down on the loss of staff to other competing organizations. Personnel retention becomes only easy when the employees feel needed.

To improve on employee-management relations, corporations have introduced other factors within human resource management. The department has deviated from just hiring and laying off workers and has taken up more duties. In present times, human resource management involves compensation, performance evaluation, wellness, benefits, motivation, training, and administration. Compensation is offered as an incentive of sorts to boost staff morale. The staff members who suffer the loss of various nature including injury and death in the course of duty are compensated by the corporation responsible (Kossek, 2000).

For a business to know whether it is making progress, frequent and constant evaluation needs to be done to ensure the objectives set are met. The human resource management is adopting the responsibility of reviewing the performance of the employees and highlighting the areas that need amendment. This ensures that the staff members and the corporation as a whole stay on track to meet the objectives and goals put in place as guidelines. Evaluation allows the business the opportunity to spot loopholes and undertake corrective measures before consequential results emerge (Sistare, 2009).

Human resource management is also incorporating welfare policies aimed at governing the coexistence and goodwill association among employees in the workplace. This is in a bid to create a rapport among colleagues and to encourage the family spirit. A contented workforce constitutes a productive team. Further, such wellness and welfare organizations in human resource management enable the employees to get certain benefits and privileges. This may act as an attractant to the job in the end. The personnel retention in such a firm remains high and these factors play a significant role in the development of companies and organizations (Berman, 2012).

Motivation is an overlooked aspect of human resource management. All staff members need to feel appreciated if they are to continue with the good work. In this light, human resource management has a massive role of ensuring staff members are given incentives for extra work done, achievements, and meeting deadlines (Krafft, 2010). Many managers and administrators have seen the need for this. Thus, many have come up with various ways of motivating staff members. In some corporations, occasional holiday trips are offered as a way of motivating workers. In other corporations, throwing a party does the trick. In others yet, giving the employees time off does the trick. The time given off is meant for rejuvenation and rest for the employees (Kossek, 2000). In the near future, this trend is expected to be adopted by even more administrators as it enables the employees to get a distraction away from work, a factor that does a great deal of good to their work rate. However, modifications and improvements are bound to arise, for example, incorporation of more dynamic and involving events such as outdoor sporting activities.

The need for competent and qualified employees has triggered the quest for education and academic qualifications. As a result, many companies have identified this gap between demand and supply of qualified personnel and, therefore, let their workers pursue further studies. However, more ambitious and result oriented companies are undertaking the process of training their own staff members as the corporation's initiative (Sistare, 2009). As a result, they offer training programs and opportunities to their employees in order to keep up with the modern trends. In the near future, this trend will most likely move to the next level and seeing corporations engaging in exchange programs will not be strange.

The administration in human resource management is also witnessing a change. It has evolved from the mean looking and serious approach previously associated with it to a friendlier all-inclusive system that allows the close association between the administrators and the subordinate members of staff (Price, 2007).