Management was conceived as an art of getting things done through people. People were considered as one of the most important resource and their efforts as most important asset. Management of People or Personnel Management as traditionally followed in organizations focused on the processes of managing recruitment and training apart from maintaining labor relations. This continued till the importance of all functional areas became crucial and emphasis on responding to competing environment became a crucial challenge. Employees or the work force were considered as one of the converting force in the organizations and it was believed that one can learn all kind of generic work while on job and the organizations are obliging their employees by giving them opportunity to work for which they are compensated periodically. This later was recognized as a time which dominated traditional treatment of employees to primarily relate work or effort with compensation or salary. Now when we look back we may term that era as HR version 1.0.
As industries were growing, organizations were evolving their work culture and they started putting up labor policies in such a way that they are able to retain talent and reduce their movement to other competing firms. The business schools were providing specialized courses and were also designing programs for industry needs for better job suitability and for assurance of improved work quality. It was also realized that if organizations treat their employees better, they would treat clients and customers better and it would positively culminate in better organizational results. Training and development of employees started getting importance in organizational processes so that the quality of products and services is improved to compete with other available options in the market. Psychologists were consulted by business organizations to develop modules for employees so that their sense of belonging, commitment and satisfaction improves. Treatment of employees was not merely transactional, rather it was viewed as transformational. It was not just for establishing relation between organization, salary and product, rather it was to have everlasting relation with employees which looked into long term perspective. Work places started becoming fun places and employees did not mind spending more time at workplaces if needed.
In brief this was the result of Human Resource Management where employees were not merely considered personnel but a resource which required its effective management looking at their skill sets, requirement of the organization and efforts to bridge the gap. It could be termed as an era which in HR literature has predominantly surrounded organizational policies for better employee management and to have focus of strategy in its composition. It was during this time when a realization became quite popular that every manager is a HR manager. The organizational heads began to converse with HR managers when it came to some strategical decisions. Organizations started creating a position as Chief Human Resource Officer. At many organizations HR was brought on the table. And that is HR 2.0.
The working age that is dominating, across sectors and organizations, is of employees below the age of forty five and it is expected that in the coming decade it is going to go down further. This generation took birth around the time technology driven companies were taking birth. The time is viewed as the time when movement from industry to services and to technology driven services became prominent. The solutions became more technology driven, the practices became more machine centered, the processes became more integrated, expectations became more instant and market as such got redefined. Market spaces got created in the virtual world and resultantly it got reflected in the kinds of products and services that were offered and the opportunities available got capitalized. This marked the emergence of an era that drove organizations to think in a lean way and to effectively leverage technology to their advantage in designing the products and services. Not only this backward and forward integration with the use of technology and the business processes management (beyond just outsourcing) got explored, experimented and accepted by the corporate houses which wanted their timeless presence in the market.
All the levers involved in the process of the value chain were energized and were warned of their bleak future if they did not respond to the call of time. For employees in the organizations at different levels of management, this was a clarion call to imbibe change and to respond to the use of technology in the processes that affected their performance. The top management oriented their employees on use of technology and the advantages it offered at all levels of the value chain, starting with back-end support to the delivery to the end user. HR practices starting from man-power planning till after severance services got integrated using appropriate technology services for better decision making.
As corporate houses got busier with valuations than profitability, HR got more performance oriented than process oriented. The solutions of all kinds using artificial intelligence had results on the click of the mouse. The job of HR became more challenging and treatment of employees became more transparent and technology driven. Performance of employees got measured on real time basis and HR started facing the brunt. Employees were on the front and customers became secondary. This got termed as emergence of HR 3.0 version. It is only the time which shall vouch whether this transformation and paradigm shift in thinking and practice shall sustain its existence and how far it is going to last.
Technology is no doubt a big disruptor in all kinds of organizational functions. But can it replace humans that is a big question. Objectivity is good and helps decision making better, but can it be allowed to dominate over all kinds of decisions when one is dealing with humans and their intangible emotions.
HP way, J&J credo, GE’s remarkable transformation, Infosys’s rise, Google’s innovative practices, IBM’s future plan, TATA’s mass appeal, and many other such visionary organizations would prove through their actions and practices whether HR 3.0 has really arrived. We shall wait and watch as today become history tomorrow.
[Jigyasa 2017 – HR in 4th Industrial Revolution, MBA (HRD) Deptt of Commerce, DSE, Univ of Delhi, p 38-39]