Challenges of Modern Human Resource Management

We need not look far to discover challenging problems in the field of human resource management. Managers may ignore or attempt to bury human resource problems, but these will not lie dormant because of the very nature of the problem component. Many problems are caused by constant changes that occur both within and without the firm. Among the many major changes that are occurring, the following will illustrate the nature of the human resource challenges.

  1. Changing mix of the work force
  2. Changing personal values of the work force.
  3. Changing expectations of citizen-employees.
  4. Changing levels of productivity.

1.Changing mix of the work force

Through each person is unique and consequently presents a challenge to our general understanding. One can also appreciate broader problems by categorizing personnel to delineate and highlight trends. Among the major changes in the mix of personnel entering the work force are:

  • Increased numbers of minority members entering occupations requiring greater skills.
  • Increasing levels of formal education for the entire work force.
  • More female employees.
  • More married female employees.
  • More working mothers
  • A steady increasing majority of white-collar employees in place of the blue-collar.

The challenge has had much to do with many of the above-listed changes. Prohibition of discrimination and requirements for positive action to redress imbalances in work force mix have led to greater numbers of minority personnel being hired for all types of jobs.

2. Changing personal values of the work force

The changing mix of the work force inevitably leads to introduction of new values to organizations. In the past and continuing into the present, the work force has been heavily imbued with a set of values generally characterized by the term “work ethic”. Work is regarded as having spiritual meaning, buttressed by such behavioural norms as punctuality, honesty, diligence and frugality. One’s job is a central life interest and provides the dominant clue I interpersonal assessment. A work force with this set of values is highly adapted to use by business organizations in their pursuit of the values of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

There is growing evidence that the work is declining in favor of a more existential view of life. Instead of organizations providing the basic guides to living persons are responsible for exploring and determining for themselves what they want to do and become. With this philosophy, work becomes only one alternative among many as a means for becoming a whole person in order to do one’s own thing”. Family activities, leisure, avocations and assignments in government churches and schools are equally viable means through which a person can find meaning and become self-actualized. The absolute worth of the individual is a value which is merged with the concept that all people are members of the great human family.

Concerning specifics, full employment gives way to the full life. Climbing the organization ladder of success for its accompanying materialistic symbols becomes less important than self-expression through a creative accomplishment. Private lives outside the job and firm are relatively autonomous, accompanied by an increasing reluctance to sacrifice oneself or one’s family for the good of the
organization. Quality of life is preferred to quantity, equity to efficiency, diversity to conformity and the individual to the organization.
With respect to an increasing emphasis upon the individual as compared with the organization, a number of changes in personnel programs have been tried. Attempts have been made to redesign jobs to provide challenging activities that needs of the human ego.

3. Changing expectations of Citizen-employees.

There are increasing signs that external rights of citizenship are penetrating the boundaries of business enterprises in the interest of improving the quality of work life. Two prominent illustrations are:

  • Freedom of speech and
  • The right to privacy.

Should employees be allowed to speak up and criticize the organization’s management and its products without jeopardizing their job security? In public organizations, this right of “whistle blowing” is fairly well protected.

4. Changing levels of productivity

Perhaps the most serious current problem facing all mangers, not just human resource managers, is the declining productivity of the economy. Up until the 1960’s the typical annual increase in production was approximately 3 percent. This figure was even placed as a guaranteed base for increasing employee income. In the last two decades, the level of productivity has fallen markedly.

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