Few years down the road, Human Resource Management (HRM) was not a subject taught at the educational institutions across the world. However, it has now expanded and engulfed almost every organisation like a plaque, rendering all other functions of the company dependent on this all-powerful department. What we witness today, the human resource professionals, instead of providing a support function, are slaughtering every individual in every conceivable way. A proper name should have been “Human Resource Massacre”.

As the story goes, once a financial institution needed to employ a security guard for which outsourcing was considered to be a viable option. An individual offered his company’s services and employed a guard for the financial concern.

In due course of time, he realised that one guard is not enough to handle a 24-hour job; hence, another guard was employed. Things went fine for a while before one of the guards fell ill and the owner of the company realised that there has to be a fallback option, in case of any unforeseen emergency. So the third guard was employed.

Then came the task of transportation of the guards to the site for which there was a requirement of administrative staff to handle the vehicles, fuel and other miscellaneous logistics. The administrative setup was followed by the Accounts Branch and subsequently to handle the whole setup, a Human Resource (HR) Department was set up.

Organisations run on the basis of profitability; hence, the owner of the company rushed back to the financial institution for the revision of the contract to accommodate additional expenses. On their refusal, the only option left was to reduce the number of the staff in the organisation. A meeting of the HR department was called on emergency basis and after due deliberations of few days, the HR recommended firing of the two guards, thus getting the same output from one guard. A classic example of how HR works.

By definition, the HRM is the management of an organisation’s workforce or human resources. It is responsible for the attraction, selection, training, assessment and rewarding of the employees, while also overseeing organisational leadership and culture, and ensuring compliance with employment and labour laws, an area not very well accommodated by majority of multinationals for in circumstances whereas the employees desire (legally authorised to hold a collective bargaining agreement) the HR will have to also serve as the company’s primary liaison with the employees’ representatives which, according to the monetary-driven nature of the businesses, is not liked by the top management.

The expectation from the HRM is much more now than the conventional roles, for now it is expected to add value to the strategic utilisation of employees and that employee programmes impact the business in measurable ways. The new role of HRM should involve strategic direction and metrics measurements to demonstrate value. But to reach that level of excellence, the prevailing HR practices need to get out of the arrogant approach of being superior to others.

Why can’t HR be more fun? How many employees of an average company really see HR that way? Not many! It used to be once when there existed an environment where things got done. A tea and coffee party on the premise was permitted, time to learn your job was expected, investments in learning and leisure were encouraged. Ever wondered what really happened? HR got “legal” and more “professional” by becoming more rigid and over procedural and, in the process, killing creativity. Human beings are looked more as “assets” or “liabilities” that have to be “managed” (read harassed) to reduce risk. Today’s HR is typically a person, who sits next to the boss when you are about to get laid off. How much pathetic ones career can be?

What is required is the change of mindsets. Starting point is to first stop using the dehumanising terms used for individuals as assets, human capital or liabilities. Dealing with them as “commodities” is humiliating them “professionally”. Once we start dealing with them on human levels, new chains of human bonding’s can create sustainable positive synergy that, in turn, will benefit the company businesses. The answer lies in moving from the “massacre” of human beings to “managing” them.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.

Blog: drirfanzafar.com  Email: drirfanzafar@gmail.com