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Future Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas in Hrm

Essay by   •  March 23, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,489 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,645 Views

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Future challenges and ethical dilemmas in HRM

HR management mainly operates in direct and open relationship with company's employees. To do that successfully, it first needs to establish a climate of mutual respect and trust. These qualities of corporate environment are acquired through continuous ethical behaviour on both sides and are easily threatened by even small deviations. HR managers are faced with demanding ethical issues on daily basis and in different situations in which employees expect to rely on them. I'll try to present and discuss three diverse areas I found particularly challenging: surveillance and control, ageing working population and global talent management.

Let me start the surveillance and control section with the type of 'surveillance' employees are usually confronted with in first place - psychometric tests. HR managers should ensure that these tests are carried out professionally. People other than test interpreters, such as secretaries and assistants, should not conduct the tests (although it happens many times in practice). Results should be analyzed carefully and objectively as they should provide the company with accurate information about potential employees but must also ensure the privacy and equal treatment of the applicants. HR managers should put in place a clear policy concerning the storage of personal and other data.

HR managers are probably involved in the discussions whether internal IT departments would implement surveillance of electronic communications. As the Internet, email and instant messaging increased in importance as useful tools in the workplace, more and more employers are considering electronic surveillance as a means of monitoring and controlling how their employees are using these tools. Electronic surveillance can be employed for three main purposes in the workplace. These include measuring performance, preventing theft and ensuring that workplace rules and policies are respected (Susser, 1988).. The opinions on electronic surveillance in the workplace are of course divided - there are those who are strongly pro electronic surveillance and those who are strongly resisting the filtering technology. HR management should listen to employees' opinion and act as a mediator between top management and IT department on one side and those supervised on the other.

The omnipresence of social network applications poses an additional ethical dilemma for HR management. Is it ethical to check employee and applicant Facebook profiles in order to spot undesirable behaviour? What if it provides the company with information that could prevent future damage to reputation, interpersonal climate or financial results? Certainly employing these measures makes employees less comfortable at workplace so HR managers should communicate with employees, encouraging them to openly express their concerns and on the other side clearly explain companies' security policy to those affected.

Moving on to the issue of ageing population, we all know demographics is becoming an increasingly important factor in the labour market and is already affecting corporate hiring policies. Governments, researchers, interest groups and companies have all reached similar conclusions: one of the key issues in future labour market will be the employment of older workers. The most burning issues are the reduction of age discrimination, increasing flexibility in working arrangements, better incentives for working, as well as more flexible financial arrangements (Shacklock, 2005).

The ageing of the workforce is likely to present HR managers with additional ethical dilemmas and increased complexity. To meet the challenges of the ageing workforce and the predicted shortfall of skilled workers, HR departments need to take special care of older workers. They should train them and retain their skills to minimize the loss of corporate memory and skills. HR departments could for example develop mentoring programs, bringing together young, enthusiastic, but inexperienced managers coming right from business schools and their older, experienced counterparts. To give a concrete example, my father said to me the other day: "If you were at this meeting I had today, you'd learn more about business than at the faculty in the whole year!". Of course it was meant metaphorically, but such transfers of knowledge inside of companies would be really helpful and HR managers should try to find ways to systematically include such kind of activities into their strategy.

To sum up a bit, dealing with an ageing workforce requires from the HRM profession to raise this issue to a high priority, having in mind not only difficulties faced when adjusting workplaces for older workers but also clear benefits their extending presence in the company could provide to their younger colleagues.

Another burning issue of HRM is certainly global talent management and related ethical issues. Forbes reported that just two days after the 20 brightest Harvard students were named Junior Phi Beta Kappa members, the highest academic honour they can achieve, the biggest hedge funds in Boston wrote them letters trying to hire them (Lenzner, 2011).

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