In spite the escalating rhetoric about Human Resource Management, in Pakistan, is still remains one of the most ill executed management function, is organisational context mostly due to misconceptions & stereotype. Human resource management is an art of managing humans through science of systems and processes. But this art has not been able to carve the excellence of human potential and diversity, because of the fact that in organisations, HRM is just taken as a routine corporate activity which has set and fixed fundamental procedures. This has resulted into reduction in employee productivity and performance, more employee turnover, lack of research, development, innovation and creativity, more issues of work place ethical and discipline issues, more legal suits and so on and so forth. Besides this another phenomenon has emerged very rapidly, which has transformed the whole HRM landscape, and that is the invasion of technology and digital revolution. It has not only affected the organizational structures production processes, management system but also has changed the human physiology and sociology in a substantial way.
It has posed a very serious challenge of how to effectually manage such human resource which is tech savvy, surrounded by gadgets, with a total change in the life and the working style. The introduction of mobile phone technology, telecommunications, internet, E and M commerce the physical space is shrinking and the cyber and the virtual space is increasing. As discussed by James E. post, Anne T lawrance and James Weber in their book Business and Society, “Technological change, which tends to be self-reinforcing, has wide spread effects throughout business and society. Some of these effects are beneficial and some are not.
Technological growth is fuelled by economic expansions. Computers are changing the procedures for the meetings that results in corporate decisions. Instead of asking a group of employees to sit around a table and discuss a problem, some organizations hold “virtual” meetings in which the interaction takes place through computers.
Participants express their ideas simultaneously and anonymously and comment on one another’s work. Anecdotal evidence from organizations as diverse as hotels, banks, plastics companies, and aircraft manufacturers indicates that virtual meetings are shorter and less stressful. Leaders are able to stick to an agenda because employees do not digress or waste time at the computer to the extent they do in person. Electronic brainstorming the generation of ideas by group during a virtual meeting has been found to be more productive than traditional face-to-face brainstorming.
Laboratory research with undergraduate and MBA student subjects in the United States of Canada supports the usefulness and productivity of electronic brainstorming for group of up to 12 participants. These groups were found to generate more unique and better ideas than did traditional face-to-face groups or nominal groups (the same number of people working alone whose ideas are then pooled) (Gallupe, Cooper, Grise, &Bastianutti, 1994; Valacich, Dennis & Connolly, 1994).
With very small groups (up to three members), a significantly greater number of ideas was produced by face-to-face meetings. However, there was no significant difference in the quality of the ideas generated by the computer mediated or face-to-face groups. Communication by computer may lower the social inhibitions and status barriers present in face-to-face groups. High-level managers tend to dominate group meetings as well as informal conversations. However, one series of studies showed that high-status group members continued to dominate group discussions whether conducted via computer or face-to-face (weisband, Schneider, & Connolly, 1995).
Computers can force changes in the organization’s informal structure by disrupting traditional lines of communication and power. For example, in companies where workers have side-by-side work stations, they communicate freely and easily about work-related and personal matters. Where such jobs are automated, workers are often separated by partitions that inhibit talking and socializing. Reducing the chance for personal interaction reduces the group’s cohesiveness.
Even though workers have found ways to use their computers for informal communication, this approach lacks the closeness and the privacy afforded by face-to-face contact. Also, many companies routinely monitor the messages on their internal e-mail system, an action that discourage its use for promoting the personal and social interactions necessary to maintain group cohesiveness.
Along with the loss of group cohesiveness, increased computer use on the job has led to employees growing sense of isolation, both on and off the job. Instead of being able to walk in neighbouring office or down the hall to consult with a colleague in person, you can ask your question without leaving your cubicle and thus without any meaningful personal contact. Instead of gossiping around the water cooler, employees are chatting online. Even lunch breaks are at risk as growing numbers of employees rush back to their computer terminals rather than visit with co-workers or run errands. A survey of 1000 employees found that 14% ate by themselves at their desks so they could log on during their free time (Fickenscher, 2000).
The ideas once shared during informal gathering of employees or generated and exchanged during spontaneous meetings are being lost, along with the opportunities to network and build social support. This situation is especially true for the millions of employees who work at home. Many of these telecommuters spend their entire workday connecting with other people only by electronic means. A study of 169 people in 73 households during their first 2 years online found that as internet use at home increased, communication with family members declined. The size of the users’ social network also declined. Frequent internet users rated themselves as more lonely and depressed than did people who spent less time online (Krautt al., 1998).
Psychologists have suggests that excessive internet use can lead to a form of addiction. The Center for Internet Studies surveyed 18,000 users and found that nearly 6% met the criteria for compulsive internet use, characteristics similar to those that define compulsive gambling (DeAngelis, 2000). These people were especially hooked on chat rooms, pornography sites, online shopping, and e-mail. One third of them said they logged on regularly as a form of escape or to alter their mood.
How does employer monitoring of computer use affect employees’ feelings about their organizations? As you might guess, it has a disruptive effect on the employee-employer relationship. Workers may come to view their bosses as watchdogs, always spying on their behaviour. To examine the pervasiveness of electronic snooping in the workplace, the American Management Association surveyed nearly 1,000 major U.S. companies. They found that electronic surveillance of employees grew rapidly during the last several years.
Almost 75% of the companies questioned reported that they routinely monitor their employees’ behavior on the job, including checking telephone calls, e-mail, internet connections, and computer files. More than half of the firms used blocking software to prevent connections to unauthorized telephone numbers and about a third blocked internet access to so-called inappropriate Web Sites.
A survey of 224 mid-size companies conducted by the Center for Internet Studies found that 60% had disciplined employees for online abuse and 30% had fired workers for such behaviour. The two most frequently reported abuses were using the internet for personal e-mail on company time and for connecting to pornography sites (DeAngelis, 2000).
Another survey questioned 1,000 internet users and reported that 10% believed that their work had suffered as a result of the excessive amount of time they spent surfing Web Sites. Another 13% blamed easy access to internet as being responsible for their inability to stay focused on their jobs (Fickenscher, 2000). Physical working conditions include factors such as the location of the factory or office building, parking facilities, heating and air-conditioning systems, elevators, child-care facilities, cafeterias, and rest rooms.
Another very serious and significant trend is excessive use of mobile phones and texting. The employees, irrespective of their gender, are involved most of the time using cell phones even during work. To cater for such distracting activities has become a very challenging task for all managers, particularly the HR Managers. The whole scenario translates into Environmental psychology which is concerned with the impact of these workplaces features on employee behaviours and attitude. In the landscaped office employees are grouped in functioning units with no floor-to-ceiling barriers. Light distribution and glare must be considered in designing illumination for work spaces. Noise in the work area can lead to deafness and to physiological effects such as increased muscle tension and blood pressure. Colour is a useful coding device and can create differing illusion of size and temperature and improve the aesthetic appearance of the workplace. Some employees like music on the job, but research shows that it does not influence productivity.
Optimal temperature and humidity ranges have been established for different kinds of workplaces. The comfort level of a workspace also depends on humidity level and air circulation. Temporal working conditions include the number of hours worked and how those hours are arranged. Much scheduled work time is lost to unauthorized breaks. To conclude, it can be analyzed that in the contemporary era of digital communications and IT, the employees are less focused with lower levels of concentration, more mechanical with downward emotional graph, Increased hyper tension with physical ailments, eye sight problems, hormonal disbalance and many other issues. Therefore the new HR policies must be evolved by keeping all these factors .For their implementation, the HR Managers must also contemplate on the basis of these emerging trends ,affecting the employees.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Lahore Electric Supply Company