Evolution of the Concept of HRM

The early part of the century saw a concern for improved efficiency through careful design of work. During the middle part of the century emphasis shifted to the availability of managerial personnel and employees productivity. Recent decades have focused on the demand for technical personnel responses to new legislation and governmental regulations increased concern for the quality of working life, total quality management and a renewed emphasis on productivity. Let us look into these trends more closely by examining the transformation of personnel function from one stage to another in chronological sequences.

Evolution of the Personnel Function

Concept: What is it all about?

The commodity concept:

Labor was regarded as a commodity to be bought and sold. Wages were based on demand and supply. Government did very little to protect workers.

The Factor of Production concept:

Labor is like any other factor of production, viz., money materials land etc. Workers are like machine tools.

The Good will concept:

Welfare measures like safety, first aid, lunch room, rest room will have a positive impact on worker’s productivity.

The Paternalistic Concept / Paternalism

Management must assume a fatherly and protective attitude towards employees. Paternalism does not mean merely providing benefits but it means satisfying various needs of the employees as parents meet the requirements of the children.

The Humanitarian concept:

To improve productivity, physical, social and psychological needs of workers must be met. As Mayo and others stated, money is less a factor in determining output than group standards, group incentives and security. The organization is a social system that has both economic and social dimensions.

The Human Resources concept:

Employees are the most valuable assets of an organization. There should be a conscious effort to realize organizational goals by satisfying needs and aspirations of employees.

The Emerging concept

Employees should be accepted as partners in the progress of a company. They should have a feeling that the organization is their own. To this end managers must offer better quality of working life and offer opportunities to people to exploit their potential fully. The focus should be on Human Resource Development.

Growth in India:

Early phase: Though it is said that P / HRM a discipline is of recent growth, it had its origin dating back to 1800 B.C. For example, the minimum wage rate and incentives wage plans are included in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi around 1800B.C. The Chinese as early as 1650 B.C. had originated management and related concepts of organization were well understood by Moses around 1250 B.C. and the Chaldeans had incentive wage plans around 400 B.C.

Legal phase: The early roots of HRM in India could be traced back to the period after 1920. The Royal commission on labor in 1931 suggested the appointment of labor officer to protect workers’ interests and act as a spokesperson of labor. After Independence, The Factories Act 1948 made it obligatory for factories employing 500 or more workers.

In view of legal compulsions and the enumerations of duties the entire approach of organizations towards their personnel was to comply with the laws and keep the welfare officers busy with routine functions. Meanwhile two professionals bodies, viz., the Indian Institute of Personnel Management (IIPM) Kolkatta and the National Institute of Labor Management (NILM), Mumbai have come into existence in 1950s.

Welfare phase: During the 1960s the scope of personnel functions a bit, covering labor welfare, participative management, industrial harmony etc. In this period the human relations movement of the West had also had its impact on Indian organizations. The legalistic pre-occupations slowly gave way to harmonious industrial relations and good HR practices.

Development phase: In 1960s and 70s the HR professionals focused more on development aspects of human resources. The emphasis was on striking a harmonious balance between employees’ demands and organizational requirements. HRD has come to occupy a center stage and a focal point of discussions in seminars, conferences, academic meets. The two professionals’ bodies IIPM and NILM were merged to form the National Institute of Personal Management (NIPM) at Kolkata.

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