Even though ‘Human Resources’ is a relatively modern management term coined in the 1960s, the importance of Human Resource Management can be traced back to Vedic ages! Yes, in The Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna not only makes Arjuna spiritually enlightened, but also teaches him the art of self management, anger management, stress management, conflict management, transformational leadership, motivation, goal setting and many other aspects which are now essential parts of any HRM curriculum.
In fact, many B-Schools today consider The Bhagavad Gita a guide to developmental strategies that are so essential in modern management. However, unlike the western approach to HRM, which entirely focuses on external world of matter and energy, The Bhagavad Gita explores the inner self.
What is Human Resource Management?
Michael Armstrong, in A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, describes Human Resource Management as “the strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organization's most valued assets - the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business.” With the growing importance of human capital as a success factor for today’s organizations, the role of HR has become more critical for corporate India as it offers a way to vault into the global league.
India’s changing HRM horizon:
The outlook to Human Resource Management in India has witnessed sea-change in last two decades. Economic liberalization in 1991 created a hyper-competitive environment. As international firms entered the Indian market bringing with them innovative and fierce competitiveness, Indian companies were forced to adopt and implement innovative changes in their HR practices. Increasing demand for skilled performers forced the companies to shift focus on attracting and retaining high-performing employees in a competitive marketplace.
Emphasis on employees:
Human Resource policies, forming the framework for the culture in the business management, create awareness towards the need to achieve the business goals in the best possible and ethical manner. Indian companies have realized that in today's competitive business milieu, the quality of people you employ can make all the difference. In the last few years, the Human Resource has become a key player in strategic planning – it has come a long way from traditional HR operations like managing the recruitment process, handling staff appraisals. That is why Infosys CFO T. V. Moahndas Pai and Marico CFO Milind Sarwatewas were moved to head the human resources (HR) function in their respective companies. Rajiv Dube, CEO and managing director of Rallis, left his position to join as HR chief at automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra.
One of the challenges HR managers face is issues of upgradation of the skill set through training and development in the face of high attrition. Indian companies are recognizing their responsibilities to enhance the employee’s opportunity to develop skills and abilities for full performance within the position and for career advancement.
Progressive HR Policies:
In 1974, an angry Sudha Murthy had to write a letter to JRD Tata to protest against job discrimination against women in Telco. Today, most Indian companies are committed to providing equal employment opportunities for all. The employers are increasingly realizing the value of trained human resource, especially women in India. Some organizations are changing their HR policies to stick with their valuable employees. MNCs like Pepsico are providing flexibility so that female employees at various life stages could benefit from these policies like working from a different city, sabbatical from corporate life, and extended maternity leave.
Entrepreneurship by employees:
India Inc. is encouraging 'intrapreneurs' or employees who have ideas that could potentially become a venture. Companies like Pepsico, NIIT, and Adobe are actively promoting practice of entrepreneurship by employees within the organization. Human Resource Management has taken a leading role in encouraging CSR activities at all levels. Companies like Wipro inculcate CSR values amongst its workforce right at the beginning during the induction process. Corporate presentations and keeping employees updated through regular newsletters are the instruments used by HR to keep employees energized about the organization’s socially responsible initiatives.
Over the last decade, India's vast manpower has played an instrumental role in its economic success story. Indeed, the success of Indian companies is not based on superior access to raw materials or technology or patents, but fundamentally upon human skills. The synergy between the strategic planning and innovative HRM practices will be pivotal as Indian Inc. embarks itself on the global journey.
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