Thefield of HR management has undergone a significant evolution sincethe 20thcentury. The human resource officers were expected to assumeadministrative roles, but they are now considered as strategicpartners with the responsibility of helping their corporationsdevelop long-term goals. These changes have been motivated byemerging challenges and trends, such as technological advancement andglobalization. In addition, many scholars have identified thatcompanies can create value by managing their employees in a way thatgives them an opportunity to utilize their skills to increaseorganization’s productivity. The engagement of the HR in theestablishment long-term plans ensures that the organizationsintegrate the components of the corporate structure into theirblueprints. Moreover, the human resource administrators are able todetermine the key priorities for their enterprises due to their closecontact with the members of staff. The participation of the HR instrategic development converts them to change agents, which increasethe competitiveness of their organizations.
Keywords: HRM, long-term goals, strategic partners, administrativeroles, change agents.
Thequality of human labor is among the key factors that determine thesuccess of the companies. However, enterprises require competitiveexecutives to administer their members of staff and convert theirskills into business value. Consequently, firms found the need toestablish the office of the human resource management (HRM) thatwould take care of issues affecting employees. This field has gonethrough a significant evolution over the years. Initially, the HR wasexpected to assume the administrative roles, but corporations arecontinually allowing them to participate in the development ofcorporate strategies (Rotich, 2015). These managers were onlypermitted to focus on the welfare of members of staff, which forcedthem to spend their time in day-to-day activities. Their scope ofwork denied them the opportunity to take part in the development ofthe long-term vision for their companies, but this perception hasbeen changing with time. This paper will address the history of humanresource management and the importance of the HR to become astrategic partner.
Backgroundof HR History
Theconcept of HRM was developed in the 20thcentury, when researchers gained an interest in finding out howcorporations could utilize the workforce to create business value.The field was initially dominated by individuals who carried outtransactional functions, such as the administration of benefits andpayroll (Rotich, 2015). During the 20thcentury, HRMs were considered as technical or middle managers whowere given the responsibilities of taking care of the day-to-dayissues affecting the members of staff. Their work was detached fromthe responsibilities of the senior executives, which implies thatthey were guided by orders from the top leadership of theirrespective companies. However, the office of the HRM gainedsignificance in late 1900 when scholars identified that corporationsthat managed to recruit competent employees, facilitate theirdevelopment, and harness their skills to create business value wereable to gain a competitive advantage (Rotich, 2015). Mostimportantly, the emergence of trends (such as technology,consolidation of companies, and globalization) created the need forthe human resource executives to take part in strategic initiativesin order to enable their organizations to address challengespresented by the contemporary economic environment.
Reasonsfor HR Manager to Become Strategic Contributors
Thereare many factors that motivate organizations to give the HR managersthe opportunity to play a role in the development of theirstrategies. Companies that engage in strategic HR management are ableto create a competitive advantage over those that allocateadministrative roles to their human resource officers. The success ofthe organization is highly influenced by its capacity to employexperienced, dedicated, and motivated members of staff since theyincrease its overall efficiency as well as productivity (Shiri,2012). However, it takes the efforts of the HR manager with strategicplanning skills to recruit a competitive workforce.
Thetransition of the HR managers also enables the organizations toenhance labor cost-efficiency. There is a great difference betweenthe way the human resource executives who assume administrative rolesand those who carry put strategic functions handle issues. Thesuccess of the organization depends on its ability to tie thecompensation package to the contribution of individual members ofstaff to the achievement of its long-term goals (Shiri, 2012). Astrategic HR department is able to establish this link moreeffectively than an administrative one, which gives the company anopportunity to enjoy labor cost-efficiency since it gets value forthe money spent on salaries.
Theability of the company to enhance legal compliance through proactivedecisions is another benefit of empowering HR managers to contributetowards strategic plans and their implementation. The administrativehuman resource officers are empowered to address short-term issues.The strategic managers, on the other hand, have the opportunity andthe skills that they need to focus on long-term matters that canshield the company from events that could subject it to the risk oflaw breaking (Alakoc, 2014). The capacity of the organization to actproactively is influenced by the ability of its executives to foreseechallenges that might affect the workforce before they take place.For example, there is a high probability that an administrative HMwill take most of the employer’s time trying to prevent therecurrence of events that contravene the labor laws while thestrategic officer will develop policies that can put the company onthe positive side in advance.
ChallengesThat Demand For Transition of HR Managers to Assume StrategicPlanning Roles
Initially,organizations allocated responsibilities to their HR managersdepending on their respective sizes, location, and the industries inwhich they operated. However, there are about four emergingchallenges in the macro-environment that force companies to changethe functions of individuals given the responsibilities of takingcare of the workforce. The first one is globalization, which ischaracterized by the movement of people from different culturalbackgrounds. This trend presents a new challenge to organizationssince it introduces the need for them to have HR managers who canreason globally and act locally. Individuals taking care of theworkforce should be able to foresee the future immigration trends andhelp their employers to develop effective strategies for addressingcomplexity, diversity, and ambiguity (Ulrich, 2016). By restrictingthe HR managers to administrative roles, the company will lose itscompetitiveness since it will not be able to take advantage ofmulticulturalism that characterizes the contemporary labor force.
Secondly,the increase in technological development has forced theorganizations to hire HR managers who are able to stay ahead of thedata and the information curve. Innovation has affected all aspectsof the company. The empowerment of the HR manager to take part instrategic planning will enable the organization to project howtechnology is likely to affect how job is done and the work settingsat large (Ulrich, 2016). The human resource executives who areempowered to take part in the long-term planning can help theorganization to leverage innovation for better business results.
Third,many organizations will start growing through an increase inprofitability. Currently, companies in the western world are enjoyingthe benefits of conservative measures (such as downsizing,consolidation, engineering, and de-layering) that were taken afterthe 2008 financial crisis (Schlappa, 2016). However, the future ofthese organizations will depend on their ability to develop strategicplans that will enhance growth in their profitability. Some of thesetactics involve the integration of different work cultures andprocesses. The success of these new approaches that are gearedtowards the future expansion of the companies will require thecontribution of the HR managers in order to enable them to put inplace workforces that have the capacity to drive growth.
Fourth,companies operating in the contemporary business environment arestruggling to increase competitive advantage using knowledge. Theneed for these changes is driven by demand for differentiatedproducts as well as services that address the specific needs ofconsumers. According to Ulrich (2016) organizations will only be ableto address this emerging challenge and enhance their competitivenessby finding, developing, assimilating, retaining, and compensatingtalents. These functions call for the expansion of the HRresponsibilities in order to develop strategies that will give thecompany an opportunity to match the workforce’s intellectualcapital with trends that are likely to impact corporations in thelong-term.
Waysin Which the HR Should Transition To a Strategic Executive
Thedevelopment of the company strategies is the primary responsibilityof its executives. Therefore, the HR managers should not be given therole of developing the long-term plans for the organization. However,they should be invited to become partners in the senior managementteam (Mitsakis, 2014). The HR executives can impel discussions thattake place during the development of the company’s strategies inseveral ways. For example, the organization can hold them responsiblefor the definition of its architecture. The purpose of developing thecompany structure with the help of the HR manager is to give anoverview of how the firm will operate in the long-run, which is thekey pillar for strategy implementation.
Companiescan also increase the success of their strategic plans by allowingtheir HR administrators to shepherd the discussion that leads to thedevelopment of their blueprints. The executives need to hold thehuman resource managers responsible for the organizational audit(Ulrich, 2016). Companies are encouraged to allow their HRs tospearhead these discussions because they are able to determine thefit between the strategic goals and different components of theorganizational structure, including the culture, rewards,competencies, and work processes.
Inaddition, the HR managers who have been empowered to assume the roleof strategic partners should take a lead in the selection,development, and debating about the most suitable programs forcultural changes. This function is part of the process of renovatingthe organizational architecture (Omotayo & Anthonia, 2013). Forexample, a company that intends to establish a team-based structureshould give the executives responsible for the management of humanresources the opportunity to create the state-of-the-art strategiesthat needs to be implemented.
Moreover,the HR manager who assumes the mandates of an executive partnershould lead a discussion that will help the organization determineits key priorities. For an instant, modern corporations operate in anenvironment in which they need to adopt multiple strategies (such asper-for-performance programs, action learning development, and globalteam-work) in order to enhance their competitiveness (Ulrich, 2016).The role of the HR strategic partners is to advise the management onthe approaches that should be prioritized, depending on theunderlying circumstances. These contributions enable the organizationto develop an effective plan for the allocation of scarce resources.Apple Corporation is among the real enterprises that have been ableto utilize the HR to set priorities. The company believes that itshuman resource executive is in a position to generate analytics thatprovide the top leadership with the insight required to forecast thetalent needs in order to secure corporations` competitiveness and thegoing concern (Arena, Malo, Uborcev, Walton & Grimwood, 2015).This approach has contributed towards its growth to a globalenterprise. In overall, the HR manager of a modern corporation isexpected to collaborate with members of the executive team in makingcritical decisions that determine the success of the company in thelong-term, instead of assuming day-to-day administrative roles.
TheNew HR as an Agent of Change
Thecontemporary business environment demands that corporations shouldstart considering their HR managers as significant agents of theagent. This trend is attributed to the fact that they have a directcontrol over employees, who are the most significant assets. Theparticipation of HR in the formulation of strategies increases thecompany’s capacity to adopt and capitalize on change (Raghavi &Gopinathan, 2013). Studies have also confirmed that the humanresource administrators who take part in the establishment of thelong-term goals of their organizations are able to narrow down theirbroad visions in order to enhance their efficiency andcompetitiveness. This benefit has been reported at Hewlett Packard,where the HR initiated the idea of giving the members of staff theautonomy to decide when and the place where they should work, whichtranslated into business value (Njoki & Kiambati, 2015). Thecorporation gained from the advice of the human resource manager tochange from the historical trend in which employees were forced toobserve specific schedules and operate from the company offices to anenvironment that is consistent with the modern lifestyle andpreferences.
Thetransition of the HR to a strategic partner converts theadministrators of employees into useful agents of change. The fieldof human resource management has existed for many years, but itgained significance in the 20thcentury, following an increase in the need to utilize the members ofstaff to create value for enterprises. In addition, some of the keytrends (such as globalization, consolidation of companies, andtechnological advancement) have forced companies to include the HR inthe processes of establishing the long-term goals. The participationof the human resource executives in the development of corporatestrategies has been shown to enhance the level of competitiveness ofthe modern enterprises. The significance of the office of the HRM andthe need to include them in the formulation of long-term objectivesis attributed to the fact that their work involves the supervision ofthe most important assets that companies rely on to create value.
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