Essay: HR Management in the 21st Century: What’s Ahead?

As the business world journeyed into the 21st century, the traditional ways of handling many business aspects slowly drifted away. This ‘turn-of-the-century’ brought a whole new way of how businesses operate and the departments within. These new ways of the business include the prominence of technology, the ongoing fight for diversity in the workplace, and expansion on globalization. Because these changes also effect the employees within the workplace, this has forced the field of human resource management to change rapidly.
Methodology: HR Management in the 21st Century: What’s Ahead?
Objective: This paper examines the rapid change in Human Resource Management throughout the 21st century. Human Resource Management is defined as a developmental function in an organization that helps employees and management teams maintain rules, regulations, incentives, salaries, etc. Research was conducted to find ways of how HRM functions have changed throughout the last few decades. Some findings included the use of technology through recruiting and managing protected information, the on-going fight for equality in the workplace for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, and the expansion of globalization. As a result, the research provide will prove that change is here to stay and increase with improvement and efficiency.
Literature Review:
Technology in HRM has changed the way businesses recruit possible candidates and manage confidential information. Before posting jobs online, HR teams relied on posting and seeking new employees through newspapers and other kinds of written publications. Since technology has evolved, employers are now using outlets such as social media, online job publications, i.e.,, etc., and company websites to recruit. Dr. Richard D. Johnson (2011) writer of Transforming HR through Technology, states that: ‘Almost all firms now provide universal access to HR services through technology and web-based applications, dramatically changing the practice of human resource management.’ (Johnson, 2011). These new technologies have also cut costs and are more efficient to use. A company is able to access possible candidate’s resumes, cover letters, contact information, and more through online publications and social media cites. This in turn saves money on using traditional form of recruiting such as search firms, temp agencies, and advertising methods.
Human Resource departments are usually the holders of sensitive employee information at any company. This sensitive information includes social security numbers, health-related information, legal issues, etc. With technology being more prominent in the Human Resources department, this confidential information is readily accessed in computer systems. Because of the easily accessible documents, HR tries to be as safe and protected as possible when handling employee information with password protection databases and other levels of security that monitors the documents. An article written by Valerie Bolden-Barrett (2015) from states that ‘HR often works closely with information technology personnel to keep workplace data secure. HR and IT might draft computer-based privacy policies on preventing identity theft, securing employees’ personal data and protecting your company’s financial information’ (Barrett, 2015, p. 5). These are just a few aspects that have shifted in the new century and human resource departments must maintain this high level of security as technology continues to advance.
The 21st century recently introduced a time in the business world where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender are considered to be a part of a ‘minority.’ With more diversity at the workplace, HR is challenged with discrimination policies. The authors of Voice, silence, and diversity in 21st century organizations: strategies for inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees explained that ‘The voices of minorities in general and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) employees in particular have been neglected in much of the academic research on employee voice.’ (Bell, Myrtle P., 2011) The article also states that ‘Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been referred to as the last acceptable prejudice and creates tremendous problems for individuals and the organizations in which they work. Being forced to remain closeted, living with the fear of being terminated, and lack of partner benefits are just a few of the concerns unique to GLBT employees.’ (Bell, Myrtle P., 2011)
The American Press (2011) submitted a census to The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy that ‘aggregated a number of surveys that examined discrimination experienced by gay and transgender employees, and determined that:
‘ 15-43% of gay and transgender employees have experienced some form of either discrimination and harassment in the workplace
‘ 8-17% were not hired or fired due to their sexual orientation
‘ 10-28% were not promoted because they were gay or transgender
‘ 7-41% were verbally or physically abused or had their workplaces vandalized’
Unfortunately even in the 21st century, there are no federal laws that actually prohibit discrimination against LGBT. Human Rights Campaign (2015) introduces the Employment Non-Discrimination act and points out that ‘There is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination; there are no state laws in 29 states that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 32 states that do so based on gender identity.’ Although things are moving slowly for the LGBT community throughout a workplace, Human Rights Campaign has comes up with ways to advocate fairness in the workplace and trying to input equality for all.
While globalization is not something entirely new in the workforce, it has increased significantly in the 21st century due to technological advances. The term ‘globalization’ is defined to be the interacted/integration of a large number of businesses that have carried out their businesses across national boundaries. During the beginning of the 21st century, many companies that originated in the United States of America have integrated and expanded their companies internationally. Because of the integration, globalization is brought into the HR environment. Globalization is very important to HR because they are now not only in control and must take care of their American workers, but also the workers overseas. Priti Ramjee (2015) of state that ‘Globalization will increase in the 21st century as organizations grow in the competitive international market. A company’s human resources department is responsible for recruiting and training local staff in foreign countries where a company has offices, as well as newly recruited foreign staff in local offices.’ (Ramjee 2015)
With responsibility for recruiting and training foreign staff members becoming more common in many businesses, human resource departments must be educated on labor laws. An article, (Bradley 2015) explains that, ‘The federal government sets out a number of tax and labor laws that businesses operating in the United States must comply with, but there may also be local and regional laws that apply to companies that operate in different states or different countries.’ (para 4) Understanding these laws is essential in HRM because if any law is ‘breached’, there will be serious consequences and the businesses reputation will be compromised.
What’s Ahead?
Although HR has taken on many new aspects, there is always more room for change. HR Executive writer Terry Terhawk (2011) writes that ‘In the age of advanced technology and Web 2.0, talent-acquisition tools have evolved to provide a great depth and breadth of options to source, recruit, track, forecast and communicate faster than ever before, and they will continue to play a much greater role in how organizations go to market.’ The advanced technologies also innovate the globalization agility of the 21st century. Terhawk (2011) goes on to explain that technology innovations have made the concept of globalization even more attainable and in the future, there will be more of a premium on companies that are globally agile in that regard.
Human Rights Campaign (2015) also has hope for the future. As of April 2013, 434 (88 percent) of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 282 (57 percent) had policies that include gender identity. Although there are no state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, they provide ways to advocate equality in the workplace; building allies, finding support from supervisors and HR teams, and coming up with a proposal regarding employee policies and the importance of adding of ‘sexual orientation’ to the Code of Conduct.
Between new-age technology and the integration of a wide range of diversity and globalization, Human Resource Management’s roles in the company must change to successfully take charge of the company’s policies and the employee. Technology provides new ways to recruit possible candidates in a way that newspapers and wanted ads were never able to do. These ways are able to find the best fit for the job available (easily accessible resumes, contact information, etc.) and keep the turn-over low. Discrimination laws will begin to provide more detail due to the newest diversity of LGBT. These changes will help protect any discriminatory allegations against those in the LGBT community and provide a more diverse and happy workforce. Integrating globalization will increase in the 21st century as organizations grow in the competitive international market. Globalization in HR will provide an understanding of the help organizations labor laws, policies, and to be better equip for a global business environment. It is vital for the human resource department of any organization to stay up-to-date with the challenges in the workplace and maintain a secure, safe, and regulated work environment.

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