Twenty First Century HR Will Remain People-Driven

Many venture to predict how the Twenty First Century HR will look like

There are no easy answers to a myriad of questions asked in relation to human resource. Proposals are plenty. There are choices to make.

And the search continues for the best strategies in managing human resource.

Rest assured that HR - Human Resource - will continue to play an important role in organizations, national governments, and so on.

Let's examine in which direction many people expect HR is headed.

You may notice that HR issues are making the headlines from time to time and almost as often as issues in finance, marketing, production, and so on.

HR Service Delivery and Use of Technology
It is predicted the use of technology in twenty first century HR service delivery will become more widespread. There is currently a keen debate on this.

While it is true that the use of technology - including in HR - will become more widespread in the future, it is very probable that this will involve mostly large organizations.

Technology is not cheap. A lot of small corporate entities cannot afford it.

More employees will learn to use technology. True. This is necessary.

But questions arise: "How will organizations identify the technology best suited to their needs?

What strategies can organizations employ to ensure that their employees can, will and continue to use technology for the intended purpose?

In-depth understanding of your operational activities and the strategies you want to adopt will help in this respect.

Current Technological Challenges
New technology takes time to master. It takes additional effort to continue using systems driven by new technology.

The apparent truth of the suggestion that more employees will learn to use technology goes without saying. Whether they will use it for the good of all parties is an open question.

Apart from this, there is a tendency by a lot of employees to misuse technology during working hours.

Surveys conducted at the present day show that a lot of employees spend their working hours surfing the internet and communicating through emails that has nothing to do with their work.

In fact, the surveys show that many employees communicate to their friends about negative things about their organizations.

As a decision maker, what can you do to arrest this type of behavior?

Plan well in order to ensure that technology plays the proper role in twenty first century HR and strategically fit into your overall organization's plan.

Technology and Human Resources Must Complement Each Other
Technology must complement Human Resource management. It is only reasonable to expect that in twenty first Century HR people and strategic utilization of technology will continue to contribute to the success of your organization.

At these times when great technological advancements are being made, it is only logical that you use the relevant technology in planning to advance the cause of human resource development.

For example, you can use the latest technology in implementing human resources information system or HRIS, and / or Executive Information System (EIS).

An EIS is intended to provide management with strategic information that can facilitate better decision making.

Another area where you may want to employ technology is the tracking of your human resources performance by using an HR Performance Dashboard. This is part of performance management.

In every initiative that you take in improving human resource management by using technology, ensure that the best possible option and most cost-effective type is selected.

An information system aims at improving circulation of information through your organization. How can technology help? Click here for information on "HRIS"

Twenty First Century HR Strategies

John Sanders, a Hewitt consultant, had provided us with insights on some of the more important twenty first century HR strategies that organizations can adopt.

Organization's preparation for twenty first century HR involves carrying out the following, based on what Sanders had stated.

  1. Understand your organization's direction. Get the support of your business leaders and key HR people in formulating and implementing HR strategies.
  2. Understanding your customer. Try to fully understand your customers' business issues and needs.
  3. Provide HR leadership. Empower people.
  4. Get the processes right. Ask: "Do they add value?"
  5. Recognize that it is a mind set. Change in HR professionals thinking takes time.

Further to this, using the Dave Ulrich model in formulating HR strategy can help organizations move smoothly into the twenty first century. (We will have more on this at a later date.)

Total HR Outsourcing in Twenty First Century HR Management
It is said that outsourcing will become more widespread in future. This is a real possibility because of organizations' emphasis on cost control.

In fact many organizations now outsource a lot of their routine HR activities.

We read about organizations that substantially reduced their overheads through HR outsourcing.

If your organization intends to do this, first answer the question "How can my organization make substantial reduction in HR costs but retain overall control or ultimate control over people?"

Under this arrangement, you may want to outsource the entire HR function or certain activities to an independent management company or organization.

If you need to outsource some HR activities, do so after proper consultation and consideration.

You can always cease outsourcing the HR activities without too much risk to your organization. Ensure that this is inserted as a term in the agreement with the selected management company.

Now the next issue arises.

If people are the most important asset, why do organizations give them away under a "total HR outsourcing" arrangement?

It is true that outsourcing is a strategy but it is only one of the many HR strategies available to you.

There remains a lot of unanswered questions about total outsourcing including:

  • How can employees remain loyal if they believe "somebody else" is paying their salaries? Is this being strategic?
  • What are the repercussions when performance appraisal is carried out by the organization's assessors but the rewards are subject to the participation or determination by "outsiders"?
  • What is the effect on motivation?
  • How will line managers relate to the external HR service provider? How will this affect their effectiveness?
  • How can employees trust their employer if they are "seemingly" working for another organization?

These are only some of the questions that need answering. There are others depending on the organization.

Even total outsourcing of the recruitment function may fall short of your expectation of the results.

Confusion on the Strategic Role of People
Experts had spent years in identifying HR strategies and how these can help to drive organizational success.

And in spite of the HR strategies that proponents have put forward, there are still conflicting facts about human resource management and the real strategic role of people. And now, we are talking about twenty first century HR. Will organizations continue to look for the proverbial needle in the haystack, namely HR strategies that answer to 21st century organizational challenges?

Many had accepted that an organization's most important resource are people. However, it was found that the number of organizations that had implemented strategic human resource management is small.

In addition, human resources are often the target during hard times or economic downturns.

Organizations carry out down-sizing or "veil" retrenchment as "right sizing."

Is this the way that twenty first century organizations want to see happening in twenty first century HR?

Strategic Business Partners in Twenty First Century HR
As one who is concerned about HR matters, whether as a Human Resource Manager, HR professional, line manager or supervisor, or as an employee working in HR or elsewhere in the organization, you can rest assured that you will continue to play your role as "strategic business partner".

How can you ensure that this remains so?

How fast can organizations make the transformation in the way they manage people?

These are questions that are not easily answered.

Many organizations attempted to look for the answers in the past and continue to do so to the present day.

The number of organizations that will seek for the answers at this very dawn of the twenty first century will undoubtedly, increase. They will do so for as long as machines or robots cannot reason and act as human beings. That time will never come to pass. Machines have no heart.

The right HR strategies can help HR continue on the road to truly become a business strategic partner.

Many HR experts are anxious in helping organizations manage HR well. And this is a very good for the future of HR.

The question remains, "Will the majority of organizations take advantage of the benefits of twenty first century HR strategies that have the potential of propelling their success to new heights?

Let's wait and see.

However, it is noted that there are so many people - commentators, professionals and experts, HR practitioners, writers - who are convinced that HR will play a more, if not the most, critical role in organizations of the future. No corporate leader, no organization can afford to remain at the sidelines of strategic HR management.

Compelling signs are there. What remains is for organizations to conduct the necessary investigations, make the required decision and take definite plans to implement strategies in managing their people. This is a proactive move in the right direction.

Whatever the future holds in store, nothing can take over the role of people.

Mark Salsbury in "Human Capital Management: Leveraging Your Workforce for a Competitive Advantage" wrote:

"...while extraordinary products and unique services still afford a competitive advantage, the one advantage that stands the test of people.”

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