Human Resources 2009: The Future of HR
December 03, 2008
The one thing we spend the biggest chunk of our time on as adults is our job, so how things are conducted where we work tends to have a significant impact on our overall well-being. More often than from any other source, people suffer stress from work, and as unionization has proven, work can even become a powerful political issue.
For the last 32 years of my life, I’ve looked at all aspects of the employment issue. There have been many frustrating conversations held with managers who didn’t seem to quite be able to grasp the proper use of authority, whether it was because they were too harsh or because they were too soft. There have been many break room discussions amongst employees frustrated by the lack of concern from management about the personal issues that they suffered from, and the most common statement that came out of those conversations was, “this is my job, not my life…or at least, that’s how it should be!”.
The issues of management, human resources and employer/employee engagement have always been of great interest to me, especially as it seemed to me that somehow there were huge gaps in communication between those who had power and those they held power over.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve seen significant changes in the way the work world operates that have been encouraging. Bit by bit, the old ways of doing things have made way for new ways, ways which are more employee-oriented. True, there have been times of experiment and of trial and error. Necessarily, adjustments had to be made on both sides of the issues involved as time went by. During the 80s, many employees were absolutely spoiled, and many of us remember the days of expense accounts and office Moms.
When the 90s required that we downsize a bit, there was a keen sense of loss not only of the perks but of the esteem that employees had felt during those years, and it was difficult for employers to discover a cost-effective way to continue to meet those needs. Employers who were now more worried about their bottom line than their employees began to hire efficiency experts to find ways to get more out of every dollar…and every person. Suddenly, people were being overworked and overstressed, which was a bit harsh to have to face after so recently being spoiled. As reality set in for both employer and employee, it became increasingly obvious that something needed to be done to balance more than the books.
I’ve been doing a lot of working on this subject over the past year, and I’ve been greatly encouraged by the new trends that I started seeing in 2008. With it being an employer’s market at the moment, with jobs being scarce all over the world, one would think that employers would be feeling their strength like never before. Instead, employers are realizing the need to keep changes in staff to a minimum, recognizing that keeping what good employees they have is a good deal more cost-efficient than having to deal with a high turnover.
The psychology behind this is a topic in itself, since one would think that there would be more of an atmosphere of employees terrified of losing the job they have when another would be so difficult to find. The fact is, however, that even though work is hard to come by, we now have a new generation of employees who feel more empowered to believe that there’s a limit to how much of their soul they will sell just to have a job.