HRM represents a new concept of and approach to performing personnel functions. It still requires the performance of those personnel functions that have evolved over the years in response to emerging needs. However, instead of treating these functions as separate and distinct, HRM considers them interrelated parts of a management system that must be integrated closely with strategic organizational planning.
HR managers are becoming more involved in the decision making of top management in a wide variety of issues and problems. Knowledge of HRM is important for individuals who will occupy managerial and supervisory roles, since they will also perform HR functions.
The present status of HRM was achieved only after years of evolutionary development. During the nineteenth century the factory system enabled products to be manufactured more cheaply than before. The concentration of workers in factories in turn focused public attention on the need for better working conditions and greater consideration for employee health and safety.
During this period an objective and systematic approach to improving worker efficiency known as scientific management emerged. By the early 1900s some of the knowledge and research from the field of psychology was beginning to be applied to the management of personnel.
Since the late 192Os severa1 forces have contributed significantly to the HRM movement. The Hawthorne studies were influential in humanizing the workplace, and the human relations movement focused attention on individual differences and informal groups. As the human relations movement evolved, it became broader in scope and included the various behavioral sciences, focusing on the achievement of organizational objectives. During this period political pressures gave rise to government legislation affecting HRM around the world. Now there is increasing specialization of HR functions and an emphasis on strategic management.
HRM may be referred to as a profession because it has the following characteristics: (1) It is based upon an organized body of knowledge developed through research and experimentation, (2) the knowledge is disseminated through publications and professional meetings, (3) professional associations promote the professional growth of their members, (4) various types of certification allow practitioners to increase their competency, and (5) the various HRM professional associations have developed codes of ethics that their members are expected to observe.
A code of ethics focuses attention on ethical values and provides a basis for HR professionals to evaluate their plans and their actions. HR departments have been given a greater role in communicating the organization’s values and standards and in monitoring compliance with its code of ethics.
The principal elements of an HR program are objectives, policies, and procedures. HR objectives are determined by the organization’s objectives as a whole. Policies serve to guide the actions required to achieve these objectives. HR policies must be compatible with current economic conditions, collective bargaining trends, and laws and regulations at all levels. HR procedures implement policies by prescribing the steps to follow in carrying out the policies.
Statements relating to objectives, policies, and procedures can be meaningful only if they are supported financially by the budget. It is important that the HRM program be audited periodically to assure that its objectives are being accomplished.
The HR department is responsible for initiating and formulating policy; counseling and advising line managers; providing services such as recruiting, selection, and planning of training programs; and monitoring the performance of line and staff departments to ensure conformity with established HR policy and procedures. The HR manager’s authority in carrying out these activities is restricted to staff authority and functional authority.
HR managers often use the services of outside consultants, and more recently, they have outsourced some of the HR functions to vendors on a long-term basis.
HRM is in the midst of a radical transformation. Line managers are reaching out to take control over the HR functions where HR departments fail to recognize their responsibilities. Comprehensive research studies have shown that a proactive, strategically oriented perspective is critical. Both line and HR executives support the concept of shared responsibility between line and HR managers. An HR competency model emphasizes goal and action management, functional and organizational leadership, influence management, business knowledge, and HR technical proficiency.