Intro: The paramount role of the HR function in any organization is to develop its human resources in a way that they contribute best to the organization. The interpretation and implementation of this has undergone a change through the years. The article tries to bring out its new form using an industry example.
It is quite common for HR professionals in the traditional manufacturing industry to discount the scope of HR in the software sector. This disdain stems primarily from the fact that there is a high turnover in the IT industry and the main focus is on recruitment. While recruitment is the most important activity in the software industry today, the scope for other HR initiatives is much larger.
The paramount role of the HR function in any organization is to develop its human resources in a way that they contribute best to the organization. Traditionally, it has been interpreted as an organization's capacity to retain talent, but this is part of an era which is on its way out - an era which operates on the belief that the industrial relations is the primary role of HR, and for which one needs personnel managers with a strong digestive system to eat at the same dhabas as the workmen: managers who are the typical macho male types.
This typical role model may no longer be relevant in the context of the changing complexion of the workforce. The first change is the surge in service organizations, which are predominantly people-oriented, leading to a substantial increase in the number of knowledge workers. Technological innovations and increasing automation have resulted in a more educated workforce even among the traditional manufacturing industry.
Business environments are also changing to a more discerning and competitive buyer's market. To function in this scenario that places a strong emphasis on quality, it is important that the workforce and unions be trained to think in a larger framework of business needs. There has to be a conscious shift on both sides of the negotiating table to a more mature and operate on a win-win mode. So the expectation from the workforce is not just production but much more than that.
In the previous era, a worker joining a company had to be happy to retire in the same company. This means that the employee was dependent emotionally, psychologically and financially on the organization and the job security it offers. And the worker needed a strong and mighty platform to protect oneself from exploitation therefore the union was born. Today, the options for the most skilled and trained workmen outside their own company are many and this has led to the shrugging of insecurities, which normally binds an employee to a union. This worker is much stronger than that he was a decade ago. These changes in the workforce need to be reflected with a change of flavor in the HR strategies.
This is especially so in the context of a service industry such as the software sector. What holds well here for the software industry may be relevant for a number of new, sunrise industries as well as traditional organizations that are undergoing a transformation process. The software sector has been considered, in this article, as an industry typical of this new breed.
Even in this industry, HR professionals still operate from the old paradigm of the personnel function. This is an attempt to blueprint an altogether fresh and relevant HR strategy for today's needs. Unlearning has to precede fresh learning in this frame of reference. HR strategy in this context has to question the very relevance of the tried and true key performance indicators of the function itself. It has to start with questioning the need to look at retention or employment turnover as a key indicator. Acceptance of today's reality, where loyalty to an organization is pass Š, is a prerequisite. This acceptance may make it easier to look at turnover more critically.
Organizations should learn to stop looking at turnover as a personal affront by rejection. Instead, one should start looking for ways to determine the threshold of turnover. This may be defined as the level of turnover acceptable to one's organization €“ not just as per the industry standards but also according to the capacity of the organization to handle it.