“Any company that’s going to make it in the 1990’s and beyond has got to find a way to engage the mind of every single employee. If you are not thinking all the time about making every employee more valuable, you don’t have a chance. What’s the alternative? Wasted minds? Uninvolved people? A labour force that’s angry or bored? That doesn’t make sense.”
- Jack Welch
Positively correlated with the economic transition is the strengthening and diversification of human resource management practices, a break away from the more traditional, though extremely challenging fields of Personal Management and Industrial Relations.
The maturity of various industries in India has also seen a maturity in the way the various players approach their human resource management. One excellent example is that of BPO Industry. In the beginning it was only meant to handle non-core activities like payroll management etc. but as the industry-matured it saw the entry of various players coming-up with strategic core service support like NAD, RR&D etc. This led to a stronger focus on HRM.
What is happening in India today is similar to the experiences of economically developed nations through several past decades; and will happen in least developed countries too, in times to come. Hence, it would be prudent to talk of modern human resource practices in a more general, i.e., global framework. Of course, contextual peculiarities will only serve to enrich our knowledge pool.
But the first thing we need to clear – both at a conceptual and at a terminological level – what we are looking for. The main task is to find a common definition of ‘innovative practices’, a definition that most of us could agree upon in order to avoid conflicting interpretations or misunderstandings, “Innovative practices are original, exemplary, successful, adaptable, new solutions gained from experience”.
Undoubtedly, the "Innovative Practices" when considered are large in variety. They range from the introduction of new technologies to the assignment of new duties to the increase in competences, they test new organizational models, and they introduce innovative tools of social and political governance at a local level.
Modern workplaces are extremely complex situations in which all the elements: the nature of the job, the characteristics of the employee, the structure of the organization/ organizational sub-unit as well as the methods and aims of supervision are extremely diverse and/or fluid. And, as a response, have emerged, a wide variety of innovative HR practices.
The first element common is the need for innovation and experimentation, which are required in order to cope with the change in the sector as workforce around the world, has undergone a serious transformation. Changing demographic patterns, income levels, aspirations & expectations have given rise to a more demanding & aware work force.
Let’s take the example of a BPO where in order to retain employees, industry is adopting new and innovative ways. The following example helps us to understand how the industry is attracting people. “MSR works for four days every week and gets to put her feet up for the rest of the week. MSR is part of a 20-member team at a leading BPO, WNS Global Services. While the company claimed every employee followed a five-day week, an insider said that the new four-day system has been introduced as a pilot project for an US insurance firm. The insurer apparently offers a similar option to its call centre employees in the US. Workers opting for the four-day system get a normal weekend off and another holiday mid-week. However, they have to work for 11 hours on normal workdays compared to nine hours that their colleagues following a usual week put in. The pay is no different either. MSR says that she finds this comfortable as she is in the office for most...