What is Marketization of HRM? Do We Really Need to Worry About It?

In a session few weeks ago, my lecturer shared his thought related to marketization of human resources management (HRM) and the potential demise of HRM caused by it. I was a bit confused but was so interested to learn about it more, as I thought that by using the word ‘demise’, my lecturer seemed to give no room for ‘improvement in HRM’ which I pretty much was not agree with it. The discussion, however, started from how financialization shapes corporate governance and impacts the HRM.

In short, financialization is defined as the way economies being operated both nationally and internationally which are currently linked to the increasing role of financial institutions, motives, markets, and actors behind it (Epstein, 2005:3). The era of financialization is believed to start in the moment when the idea of a “market for corporate control” came up in the 1970s and 1980s (Lazonick, 1992). “Market for corporate control” would suggest that the market conditions (which one of the indications is the price of stocks) determine the fate of the company. Batt and Appelbaum (2013) explain that whenever the value of the company’s stock is under its assets’ value, it would easily be traded, rearranged, and some parts of it could be sold again.

Office

Office (Source: https://pixnio.com/people/crowd/crowd-interior-people-architecture-building-stairs-steps-fences)

As the financialization happened, the new form of corporate governance which leads to marketization of HRM takes place.

Marketization of HRM refers to the idea that HR strategies and its practices have to be ‘pro-market’ instead of ‘pro-business’ (Dundon and Rafferty, 2018). By ‘pro-market’, it aims to support the short-term profitability based on the emerging market principles. This ‘pro-market’ term resonates with what Lazzonick (1992) termed as ‘market of corporate control’ aforementioned above. The HR strategies has no more in favor of ‘pro-business’, which supposedly supports the long-term development goals and ‘wider societal interests’ (Dundon and Rafferty, 2018).

As this short-term profitability became the center of focus, the role of HRM may be argued to become a “handmaiden of efficiency” to produce higher shareholder value through ‘labour rationalization’, instead of being a “strategic business partner” or “employee champion” as discussed by Ulrich (1998) (Dundon and Rafferty, 2018). To create efficiency, the HRM function becomes such an implementer for investors to cut wages, to reduce employee rewards and pension, or to restructure the workforce as well as to facilitate transfer of employment (Palpacuer, Seignour, & Vercher, 2011).

In relation to that, companies were being downsized -or looking for new models of employment (e.g. ‘gig’, outsource, platform based crowdsource, etc)- to minimize internal labour costs and as a way to do operational austerity. Using the study of Jung (2011) that analyses 681 large companies between 1984-2006 which announced downsizing, Batt and Appelbaum (2013) argue that downsizing is also seen as a way to increase share price and market valuation. Interestingly, another study by Shin (2010) informs that higher compensations were offered to the CEOs for subsequent years in corporations that decided to downsize.

Since the late 1970s, however, as the rise of financialization, the development of hyper-individualism became such a significant new face of the workforce (Dundon and Rafferty, 2018). Further, it is argued that hyper-individualism provides ‘an ideological justification’ to reward such label as ‘super manager’ (Piketty, 2014) in relation to the ‘modern cult of leadership’. Therefore, HRM also transforms its role to become a ‘supporter’ for individualistic determination of pay, based on structural authority as rationalized by falsely perceived market freedoms.

In this point of discussion, I became really curious about the history of HRM. I was then looking at several literatures and found that this note from Kaufman (2007) is worth to discuss:

… the term ‘HRM’, particularly in Britain, was started to be used in the mid 1980s in some journal articles. In short, British writers ‘opted for view that HRM was a substantively different model (of management) built on unitarism, individualism, high commitment, and strategic alignment (e.g Guest, 1987; Storey, 1995 in Kaufman, 2007). The concept of HRM itself perceived as a threat of a long stand industrial relations model, which also seen as a means to avoid union establishment in ‘Thatcherist neo-liberalism’ (Guest, 1987; Purcell, 1995 in Kaufman, 2007)

An interesting point that I realized from that note is, as the term HRM is actually emerged at the same era of the rise of financizalization (late 1970s-1980s), it might be argued that the concept of HRM, with its ‘unitarism, individualism, high commitment, and strategic’, is not “being shaped”, but actually “being transformed” in orchestra of the development of financialization.

Therefore, I personally saw that the HRM shall not be viewed as being threatened or would be irrelevant (potentially demise) because of the financialization or marketization. The condition aforementioned, however, might resonate with what Kaufman refers as ‘strategic alignment’ (I might need to check it again). Yet, again, as a relatively new concept (Kaufman, 2007), I guess HRM might also need such rooms to be improved and to be developed from time to time.

However, I would say that HRM, which was seen as ‘a replacement’ for personnel administration and industrial relation model might be demised if industrial/business model was totally/or at least significantly changed. So far, various names such as human capital management, people management/operations, etc. are being used instead of HRM, but the concept’s roots are quite the same with the original concept of HRM from the 1970s.

To conclude, the term ‘marketization of HRM’ is quite problematic; to me, if you want to be ‘pro-business’ you would also need to be ‘pro-market’, as business most probably changes when the market changes. The challenge here is how HRM could be ‘business partner’ & ’employee champions’ (mentioned in the article) in ‘always-changing’ market.

On another note related to the topic, the use of ‘hyper-individualism’ used by Dundon and Rafferty (2018) as an impact of the ‘marketization of HRM’ implies an indication how it significantly sharpens the value of individual and started to dismantle the collective approach through HRM activities. Importantly, a need of individual efforts to develop ‘external employability’ to stay relevant with labour market became necessary (Currie et al., 2006). Further, this individual’s effort, would help to find a way to secure oneself in facing ‘blocked careers or employment instability’. I would probably try to discuss more about this ‘external employability’ in another blog-post.

What do you think? How HRM might be transformed in the future?

@yosea_kurnianto

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Would you use simulation/role-play for the hiring process in your organization/company? Pay attention to these 4 points!

I recently had an opportunity to observe an assessment center that involves simulations/role-play as one of several methods for assessing candidates. This assessment center aimed to select ‘entry level’ employees who will be projected/developed as ‘future leaders’ of the company.

The assessment center was scheduled to be done in 2 days, consisted of 5 ‘exercises’ in which 3 of them were using simulation/role-play as a selection method. The other 2 were presenting innovation ideas for the company and doing self-reflection based on other 4 previous ‘exercises’. In this post, I will try to reflect my observation, focusing on the 3 simulation/role-play exercises.

O’Leary, R., et al. (2017) review that simulation/role-play was initially used in the military personnel selection back in 1940s and started being adopted by organizations for managerial assessment center in 1950s. An international study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) in 2013, 67% of the companies surveyed use some form of simulations as part of their hiring process. Simulation/role-play is seen as “show me” and not “tell me” measures which gives benefits for organization/companies to mitigate distortion as candidates might not be able to fake proficiency and requires a behavior response to mirror actual ability (Gatewook, Field, & Barrick, 2008).

I personally had chances to design such assessment centers, but never used role-play as one of the methods. I believe that role-play is actually best for learning and development purposes, but I am not quite sure when it’s used to determine candidates’ future with our organization/company.

 

 

However, observing these 3 ‘exercises’ involving simulation/role-play, I became aware on several important points to consider whenever HR/Organization practitioners consider to use this method for hiring purpose (‘selecting’ people):

  1. Making Sure the Fidelity of the Simulation

In the context of assessment, fidelity is ‘degree to which a measure represents or replicates actual features of the focal job’ (O’Leary, R., et al., 2017). It’s further explained that fidelity has 2 aspects: psychological and physical. Psychological fidelity has to ensure that during the simulation/role-play, candidates need to utilize the knowledge, skills, and abilities during the simulation/role-play that they will use on the job. Related to this, physical fidelity refers to which extent the simulation/role-play replicates actual tasks performed on the job. High level of fidelity then will surely enhance the validity of the assessment method.

Fidelity would impact to what degree the simulation/role-play brings the “Realistic Job Preview” (RJP), that would influence candidates with quality of information to ‘self-evaluate’ whether the job (and the organization/company) fits their interests, skills, and preferences – which might result to the acceptance/refusal of job offers (Downs et al, 1978).

  1. Understanding ‘a Sample’ and ‘Sign/Indication’ Behaviors

Simulation/role-play try to measure candidate’s performance related to job/work by performing certain tasks, using tools or technology, and interaction with other employees or customers (Callinan & Robertson, 2000, O’Leary, R., et al. 2017). This method relies on ‘samples of behaviors’ to predict the whole job performance of the candidate. Thus, it would have a better accuracy when it’s based on behavioral consistency; considering that the ‘the predictor of future behaviors is past behaviors in the same or similar contexts (Wernimont & Campbell, 1968).

Thus, the assessors should be careful in deciding whether the ‘acts’ or behavior during the role-play is just a sample of variety behaviors might be performed by the candidates or the sign/indication of the whole personality/characters of the candidate; providing an assumption of how a person might response a same thing differently in different situations.

  1. Managing Candidates’ Reactions from the Process

Candidates’ reaction to an assessment method is typically being evaluated with a framework from organization justice theory (Gilliland’s model, 1993). The 3 dimensions on this matter are “(1) perceived job relatedness, (2) opportunity to perform, and (3) interpersonal treatment”.

A candidate told me that she felt unsatisfied being assessed by simulation/role-play method, in which she was only given 20 minutes to understand 4-5 pages’ simulation/role-play context and 15 minutes to perform. This might seem more like an ‘Acting School’ or ‘Movie Casting’, rather than selecting ‘future leaders’ – as script was given and candidates’ need to act based on it.

“I think, it might be quite unfair that one’s competency and capability be captured by a 15 minutes of acting, the feedback that I received was mostly from those exercises” – quoting her comment that echoes the lack of opportunity to perform during the assessment center.

  1. A Long-Term Perception on Organization/Companies Condition

I observed that some simulation/role-play exercises gave candidates such a hard situation as they needed to ‘act’ with ‘hard managers/leaders’ within the companies. As some candidates said ‘it might happen in real life’, they also admitted that they would definitely resign / leave the organization/companies if the internal condition was like that.

Although, I assumed that the situation was given (maybe) to measure candidates’ emotional intelligence and conflict management, I do still believe that it’s more important to provide ‘realistic job preview’ in relation to aforementioned fidelity discussion. As this assessment center invited ‘future leader’ candidates which most probably have ‘other options’ aside of joining this organization/company, it’s necessary to make sure that the given simulation not become a ‘backfire’ to the organization/companies reputation.

Organizations/companies are “increasingly using assessments as an opportunity to promote their brand because they have the potential to influence perceptions” (Yu & Cable, 2012). Further quoting O’Riley et al., (2017):

“… not only is it important that those applicants/customers be treated fairly in the assessment process but also that the assessments present the organization in the most favourable light possible and leave applicants and customers with a positive impression. As previously mentioned, applicant impressions are related to job pursuit intentions. It is fundamental for the business (from direct‐to‐consumer, online retailers to large international hotel chains) that applicants (selected and not selected) view the organization favourably and remain customers. In a social media‐rich world it is increasingly likely that candidates will share their impression of the organization and its brand with others and in turn impact others’ impressions and intentions towards the organization/companies”.

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Would you use simulation / role-play for the hiring process in your organization/company? Pay attention to above 4 points. Good luck!

@yosea_kurnianto

LAST YEAR, TODAY: STARTING TO COLLECT MY #CHEVENINGMEMORIES

Last year, today, June 8th – I received an email from the Chevening Secretariat to confirm that I was selected to receive the Chevening Awards scholarship from the UK Government. The scholarship gave me a year of experiences to pursue my career interest in HR Management and People Development areas through a master study at the Manchester Business School majoring HR Management.

I arrived to Manchester in September 2017 and started #MyCheveningJourney. This Wednesday (June 6th), I just did the last exam of the term, which means that my study is almost finished with 1 thing left: master dissertation, that I will submit at the first week of September 2018 at the latest. I will attend the Manchester Business School Postgraduate Summer Ball this evening to mark the end of the master program as well as Chevening Farewell in London, Alexandra Palace. Time flies!

During #MyCheveningJourney, I am lucky enough to get a chance to be 1 of 10 Chevening Social Media Ambassadors and a Student Ambassador for HR Management course at the Manchester Business School. Those roles brought me opportunities to make the most of my time along the year. Through this blog post, I would try to start collecting some #CheveningMemories from September 2017 until this June 2018:

September 2017: I arrived to Manchester at September 13th. I rent a flat near the university with other 2 Chevening scholars from Indonesia. The orientation week from the program director of the Manchester Business School started at the week of September 18th. I had 5 days to set up everything I needed, such as student administration, bank account, water and electricity bill for the flat, etc. The study started at the week of September 25th. It’s a good experience to ‘start a new life’ in a new place and a new culture. I think I don’t have any significant problem in adapting myself, apart of few days of jetlag and be always ready with daily rain in Manchester (as some friends said: Rainchester).

October 2017: My first visit to London for attending a welcome reception from the Chevening Secretariat and the UK Government. It was a magnificent atmosphere to be with other scholarship recipients from around the world. In arrival to London, the very first place I visited was 221B Baker Street where the Sherlock Holmes, one of my favorite characters, ‘lived’. I also visited several places that previously I only could see at some pictures, read at some articles, or watch at some videos.

Chevening Orientation, London (October, 2017)

November 2017: I teamed up with 2 of my classmates to represent Manchester Business School in joining a debate competition held by the Industrial Society in Manchester. One of my professor convinced me to join the team, although I had almost zero experience in a debate competition, but quite used to involve in negotiation or convincing people (clients) through my previous career. I pushed myself to learn the techniques as well as understanding the UK context to be able to build relevant arguments related to the topic. Surprisingly our tem became the winner and received the first price. It was truly an honor as the year before, the team of Manchester Business School couldn’t make it to win.

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Manchester Business School Debate Team (November, 2018)

December 2017: I remember how busy it was as I had to do the first term exams as well as to do my role as the spotlight of Chevening Social Media Ambassador (each ambassador got 1-month spotlight where he/she needs to share in social media quite extensively). However, the month was so magical as in the Christmas break, started at the 3rd week of December, I possibly experienced the most memorable Christmas in my life so far. I travelled to London to meet some friends and to experience some ‘Christmas moments’ there: ice skating at the Natural History Museum, visited Winter Harry Potter’s studio, and enjoyed an evening at the Hyde Park. Few days after visiting London, I travelled to Northern Ireland to visit some Game of Thrones filming areas, continued to Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness, and ended with a white Christmas in Edinburgh. Some Indonesians also gathered at the university of Edinburgh to have a Christmas dinner.

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A Christmas Dinner with Indonesian Cheveners at Univ. of Edinburgh (December, 2017)

January 2018: A new year, new possibilities. Aside of academic studies and travelling around the UK, I also intended to expand my professional networks. Thus, I started to be more ambitious in connecting myself to HR professionals in Manchester and the UK. I attended several HR related events, one of them, to me, the most different kind of professional event, was ‘Connecting HR Manchester’ initiated by Coach Ian Pettigrew and some others. The event basically aimed to invite HR professionals in a pub, to connect, and to talk about anything with no theme or topic of discussion set up by the committee. However, I found it really fun and interesting as although I am a student, I felt welcomed by those professionals and they gave me various insights related to HR and People Development issues based on their expertise.

February 2018: I won another competition. This was a case-study based competition held by Manchester Business School within its annual HR Conference. My team and I received a case related to a grievance mechanism in Chinese manufactures. We presented some proposed solutions based on several perspectives and theories related to HRM and Industrial Relations issues. I was fortunate enough to have teammates who worked hard to find the best proposed solutions and able to work together, although we had different backgrounds and believes related to the issues.

March 2018: My first visit to the UK’s Foregin and Commonwealth Office in London to attend Partners Reception, an event held by the UK government to thank and to appreciate institutions and organization partners for the Chevening Scholarship. I met several representatives from global companies, from banking to oil and gas industries. I was then realized that not all companies who came were already partners, but still considering to be partner. That’s why they came to meet several scholars to understand their experiences. Hopefully they make a commitment to support the program soon!

Chevening Partnership Reception, FCO – London (March, 2018)

April 2018: If in December 2017 I travelled to the north, I travelled to the south in this month. I joined some other Cheveners to explore the Cornwall area in south-east of England. We visited Eden Project and the city of Falmouth, hosted by the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. Before coming back to Manchester, I stopped by in the middle of the journey to visit the city of Bath and the infamous Stonehenge. I saw a photo of Stonehenge in my childhood and put it on a list to visit during my year in the UK.

May 2018: Several moments of ‘ending’ on this Month: ending the week of classroom studies, ending my participation at the Manchester Industrial Relations Society (MIRS), and ending my attendance to the Work and Equality Institute (WEI). I joined MIRS and WEI in the beginning of the academic year (around October) in attempt to learn beyond classroom and to connect with professionals and experts related to HRM and Industrial Relations. Although I usually the ‘only student’, I always enjoyed the sessions as they never failed to give me more understanding and insights related to the issues.

Manchester Industrial Relations Society & Work and Equality Institution Reception (May, 2018)

June 2018: Well, in the first week of June I received an email invitation for the Chevening Farewell in London next month (July 4th) and an instruction to book my flight ticket back to Indonesia. As I mentioned before, I also did the last exam in early June, which means that the term is ended. Marking the end of the master study, I will attend the Manchester Business School Postgraduate Summer Ball later this evening (June 9th). I will update this post with several photos from the event.

End of exam party with classmates (June, 2018)

Beyond those highlights, I indeed travelled to several other cities and regions in the UK, visited some iconic places, tried several iconic foods and beverages, and importantly, made significant numbers of friends and professional networks during the year. #MyCheveningJourney in the UK might soon to end, which also means that I will have several new beginnings with lots of opportunities and challenges ahead. These #CheveningMemories changed my life, and I hope I can amplify the positive impacts I gained this year to the people around me on the next journeys.

What are your #CheveningMemories? This a short video of mine:

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@yosea_kurnianto

(A Short Note) In Choosing Jobs (If You Could): Thanks, but It’s Not ‘My Game’

I sent an email to express my gratitude and to apologize as I would not be attending to an invitation from a giant consulting firm for a recruitment process in London (for a placement in South East Asia) earlier this month. Indeed, I felt grateful because they recognized my profile and considered that I would somehow ‘fit’ with the job and their organization. However, after thinking about it for few moments, I realized something and decided to send that email. In short, I thought that the business and the remuneration package if I joined them would be amazing, but it’s not the kind of ‘game’ I would like to ‘play’ for my next career journey.

Remember when we’re children (and in fact we still have some ‘childish’ behaviors), we might try many things and play everything. Yet in one moment, we would have some preferences of ‘games’ that we wanted to play and then ‘stayed’ on that. The ‘game’ we preferred to play might have several characteristics that the others don’t have. It could be as simple as the display (color, weight, etc.), to the difficulties (simplicity or complexity), or even the sources (who gave the toy / who provide the game), etc. Nevertheless, there are also moments that you might change your preferences, which is also fine. The point is, that consciously or unconsciously, you’ll have preferences and factors in determining what kind of ‘game’ you would like to play.

It’s similar with career and jobs. You might have different jobs in the same career track. You might also have different career tracks with various jobs within them. No matter what job it is, the question to be discussed here is: ‘Do you really enjoy this ‘game’? How mindful was I when choosing the jobs (if I were able to choose)?

Jobs, like games, have ‘rules’ that you need to ‘follow’. Some of the rules will require yourselves to sacrifice parts of your life; this then usually called as the ‘trade-off’ process. How much you would follow and deal with those rule of the games will determine your next step in your jobs and career journey.

I decided not to join the ‘games’ invited by that giant consulting firms because of several reasons, which I finally considered that it’s not ‘my game’. I would not share the reasons here anyway, but you could send me a private message if you want to know more about how I considered whether this is ‘my game or not’.

Again, to end this short note, it is really important that we keep ourselves as conscious as possible and as mindful as we can when making any decision whether to join ‘a game’ or not. Things might change, our preferences might also differ time by time, but we can focus on this moment by understanding what kind of rules we want to follow or how possible we can change the rules and create our own? By understanding that, we will be able to choose wisely to join the ‘best game’ (job or career) we want to ‘play’ or to say ‘Thanks, but it’s not my game’.

@yosea_kurnianto

Sorry, I’m Not a Believer on ‘You Can Be Anything You Want’, at Least When Talking About Career Journey

I almost finish my master degree. It feels so quick as now I need to rethink the next journey for my professional career. Although gratefully I received several job offers through my LinkedIn profile, I haven’t decided anything and will give time to myself to think carefully on several aspects.

The phrase ‘you can be anything you want’ is so attractive. You might hear this in many occasions, esp as an advice for your future in motivational sessions. In a career journey, it implies that career is ‘boundaryless’. By boundaryless, it means that career could become ‘a sequences of job opportunities that move beyond the boundaries of single employment settings’ (Arthur, 1994) or easily ‘move across the boundaries of separate employers’ (Guest, 2015). To me, this is not entirely true as career does have boundaries. In this blogpost, let me try to discuss several of them. Not to be such a pessimistic, but more on realistic context which might help us to determine our career wisely.

It’s worth to note what it means by boundaries, I would bring Ashforth’s, et al (2000) perspective on this; as he explained boundaries as limits around ‘physical, temporal, emotional, cognitive, and/or relational’. Those boundaries also have ‘textures’ as mentioned by Guest (2015). Some boundaries could be physical (e.g. location), social (e.g. discrimination), and even psychological (e.g. working preferences) which make it less visible. Those boundaries involve circumstances within person or surrounding environment (e.g. education background, difficulty in finding mentors, or lack of social capital); which somehow limits career mobility and development.

The concept of ‘you can do anything you want’ / boundaryless career emphasizes the freedom of individuals to decide their own career. However, regulation from government, education background, and social class take place in shaping an individual career. The believe that boundaryless career is driven by individuals and indeed sounds so attractive; but this thinking only benefits people with good education and high skills, but not for minorities, women, low skills and disabled people, as argued by Currie, et al (2006).

In reality, to get a job, you will need to cross such boundaries which usually involve such gate-keepers. The function of gate-keepers is to make sure that the employees who will enter the new role are suitable and most likely be successful in all the needed processes. These gate-keepers usually in form of as recruiters, examiners on chartered bodies, or managers and leaders of an organization/institution. To pass the gate-keepers, you will need to fulfill all the requirements from skills, education, previous experiences (or sometimes whether you know somebody from that particular organization/institution!).

Instead of keeping in mind that ‘you can be anything you want’; I prefer to look re-evaluate ourselves by understanding what might be such boundaries for our career journey. Once we evaluate our career boundaries, we will be able to re-arrange our situation by re-learn, re-train, re-skill, or equipping ourselves with possible new knowledge and skills to be able to cross several boundaries to obtain a ‘better career journey’. For instances, I never learned about data analytics; those are boundaries for me to pursue a career journey in tech-driven company as a social data analyst (e.g. people analytics). If only I strive to equip myself with the needed skill, I would then get a chance to cross that boundary.

Illustration: re-learn, re-train, re-skill yourself

Nevertheless, in some cases, we just need to embrace boundaries that we have. For example, I am aware that my mathematical intelligence is not as strong as my linguistic/verbal intelligence; thus I would not bother to pursue career that involves strong mathematical skills and focus to develop careers that would appreciate my other skills.

Telling ‘you can be anything you want’ for kids who’re still grow up would be fine, telling that phrase to young-adult who have more boundaries could be problematic. On some contexts, career boundaries could be less but also could be more complicated once an individual grew up. If it seems that you only have to embrace some of your boundaries, be explorative on what you have and design your best career aspirations from those. Don’t forget that you’re able to increase your value to cross more boundaries by re-learn, re-train, and re-skill yourself. You cannot be anything you want, but you might be able to be the best version of yourself.

@yosea_kurnianto

#MayDay and The Dark Shades of Employment Relations in Gig Economy (in Indonesia)

The International Labours/Workers Day or May Day is ‘celebrated’ in many countries, including Indonesia. Various issues and demands were voiced by Indonesian trade unions in each year’s May Day ‘celebration’. Lately, the demands were predominantly around issues of outsourcing and (increased minimum) wages. The movement does indeed contain positive message in improving the condition of Indonesian working class. However, several riots and chaos situations happened during the May Day brought negative stigmas about trade unions.

Many companies started to find a way to avoid the establishment of trade unions in their company by making their own employee relations programs, to using certain employment models, such as outsourcing, zero hours’ contract, or even using term of ‘partner’ instead of employee as applied by some newly web/app-based companies.

Companies that design their own employment relations programs are tried to minimize the ‘noise’ of the employees by providing certain level of open internal communication, easily access management team, and such effort to involve employee representatives before deciding any policy. Using this way, the companies expect that employees would not feel any need to gain ‘power’ (through union) for negotiating or communicating their grievances to the management.

Companies that use the term ‘partner’ instead of employee indeed limits the ability of the workers to form a lawful union under the company, or to join any. This raising trend was marked by the development of online/web/app-based companies, which many literatures refer as gig economy.

Nevertheless, with the freedom of association as the right of Indonesian citizen and under the sense of ‘solidarity’, those ‘partners’ and/or online workers formed such ‘online workers’ association’ both in social media and even conducted such offline manifestations to voice their grievances.

Gig economy, however, is not something new and not merely in technology or digital based business. Friedman (2014) explains that ‘gig workers’ work to complete a particular task or for a defined time. This could be employed as a waiter in a restaurant, a cleaner of a building, a singer in a pub, etc. Nevertheless, Cockayine (2016) argues that gig economy is also usually referred as on-demand or ‘sharing’ economy. In his perspective, technology and digital platform strongly enhance the development of this model, which resonates the current situation in Indonesia: online ride-hailing (ojek online), online selling, etc.

Some companies who employ this ‘partnership’ model, save lots of money as they don’t need to provide any kind of employee benefits such as holiday/sick pay, parental supports, etc as ‘normal’ companies do. Yet, those companies most possibly do not have any clear strategy to manage the grievances of their ‘partners’, which might happen quite a lot as it’s believed that ‘partners’ under this employment model have weaker ‘psychological contract’ with the companies.

These kind of gig companies have been seen unable to manage the grievances in their business models, as we can observe that the disputes and grievances of ‘partners’ through ‘online workers’ associations’, were addressed to the government, instead of the companies.

It is worth noting that industrial relations involve at least 3 actors: company, employee representations (trade unions), and government. In the event where company and employee (or in this case, partner) representations failed to establish a good employment/partner relation, government would need to intervene.

In regards to that, government has significant role to both actively facilitate the growth of economy and identifying potential disputes by designing appropriate regulations and law. It’s hardly to say that Indonesian government is quick enough to properly response to any potential disputes related to employment so far. Take example on the online ride-hailing service. At the end of 2015, the Ministry of Transportation banned this service because it’s considered as ‘unlawfully established in the context of public transportation regulation’. The President, however, argued that the service is ‘needed by the society’, which then the service continues to operate. Yet, nothing to hear from the Ministry of Manpower or published comprehensive discussion from related stakeholders about the employment model caused by this service which now make lots of ‘noise’ in the employment/partner relations.

Aside from above case, it’s interesting to see that since June 17th 2016, the government, through the Minister of Information and Technology affairs, fully supported the launch of an initiative called ‘Gerakan Nasional 1000 Start-Up Digital’ (The National Movement of 1000 Digital Start-Up). Cited from a press release, more than 32.000 people registered themselves which 6500 of them joined the provided entrepreneurship training in 10 cities, resulted 123 start-ups so far. Observing from various newly digital start-ups that employ such ‘partnership’ employment model, it is important to note that those start-ups also need be equipped with the capability to manage employment/partner relations in the future.

To maintain a positive relations and its stability, (gig) companies have to understand the importance of providing a continuous communication with employee/partner representations and to act on it. For instances, an Indonesian e-commerce based in Jakarta establishes a community for its online sellers. The community is maintained through an online platform and several offline meetings across the country to develop ‘selling skills’, but also as a platform of grievances mechanism from the sellers to the platform provider (the management). This model is also possible to be adopted by (gig companies) in transportation and education services to better manage their ‘employment’ or ‘partner’ relations.

It is believed that 3 actors of industrial relations have to establish a harmony. Some argue that trade union might not be the best form of employment representation in the near future because of the transformation of employment model. Yet, whatever the form of employment representation: could be trade union, establishment of work council (e.g. in Germany), or even softly’ managed by the company; both government and companies shall carefully provide accessible communication mechanism with the workers in creating the best working condition that could be achieved, although there might be tension of interests from each actor.

@yosea_kurnianto

Is Posthuman (or Superhuman?) Resources Management Needed?

McKinsey & Company (2016) released a research based article entitled “Where machines could replace humans – and where they can’t (yet)”. The conclusion they made were involving analysist of 2000 plus activities from more than 800 occupations from US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net. It is worth noting that the report was not considering only the jobs but rather the details of activities (within the jobs). Activities were categorized based on their feasibility to be automated by current technology and machine, such as robots and artificial intelligence. In conclusion, jobs that involve predictable (routine) physical work (78%), processing data (69%), and collecting data (64%) might be replaceable. In another side, jobs that involve unpredictable physical work (25%), stakeholders’ interactions (20%), applying expertise (18%), and managing others (9%) are still less likely to be automated with currently demonstrated technology.

Frey and Osborne (2013) from Oxford University Engineering Sciences Department and the Oxford Martin Program argue that 47% of total employment in the US is in the high risk category. By saying high risk, Frey and Osborne (2013) refer to the automation expectancy at a decade or two. It is true that computerization has already taken some tasks with explicit rule and routine based activities (Autor, et al., 2003 in Frey and Osborne, 2013). However, big data, artificial intelligence, and robots are rapidly entering the area of pattern recognition for doing non-routine tasks, even enhanced with senses and various skills which previously were done manually (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2011; MGI, 2013 in Frey and Osborne, 2013). Thus, it is believed that nature of work in various industries and occupations will be changed significantly, although Frey and Osborne (2013) see that some bottlenecks of computerization and automation will make the process longer, especially in the activities and jobs that involving perception and manipulation, creative intelligence, as well as social intelligence.

In other released article, McKinsey & Company (2015) stated that less than 5% of whole jobs can be automated using current technology. Yet, 60% of jobs could have 30% or more of their activities to be automated with current technologies, including robots and artificial intelligence. In other words, most jobs would need quite significant redefinition as well as business processes transformation in the near future. Bessen (2017) argue that based on the data of manufacturing employment in the United States since 1950, there is a strong evidence that the view that automation eliminates jobs wasn’t always true, with consideration of globalization as well. This statement is supported by other evidences, for instances from Gaggl and Wright (2017) which stated that “technology tended to raise employment in wholesale, retail, and finance industries, but had no statistically significant effect on other sectors, including manufacturing”. Gregory, Salomons, and Zierahn (2016) find “that automation of routine tasks tends to eliminate certain jobs (activities), but that net employment increases”.

As a scholar in human resources management and industrial relations, who have been working for 4 years as an HR practitioner and consultant, some reflections related to that issue will be discussed in this article. I will try to deliver two important perspectives related to whether HR jobs will still be relevant and what kind of HR leader is needed in the future.

In a book entitled ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’, Harari, (2016: 56) argued that “Human species is not going to be exterminated by a robot revolt. Rather, human is likely to upgrade itself step by step, merging with robots and computers in the process…”. He added that ‘humans will make a bid for divinity, because humans have many reasons to desire such and upgrade, and many ways to achieve it”.

Sophia, a robot that received a citizenship from a country. Photo source & article: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/an-interview-with-the-artificially-intelligent-robot-sophia

Clearly, Harari believes that human species (in his term Homo Sapiens) would continue to experience kinds of evolution to be ‘more than human’ or I will use the term ‘posthuman’ in this writing. ‘Superhuman’ could also be an alternative term, yet more references and previous writings by scholars we found using ‘posthuman’ term. The term ‘Posthuman’ is actually not a new concept. The origin of it was at the cybernetic movement in 1940s. It became quite explosive in 1990s because Donna Haraway’s Simians Cybors, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature in 1991. Haraway’s doesn’t use the term ‘posthuman’ in explicit way, yet her believes that boundaries between human and other creatures (in this context is technology) is ‘no longer secure’, and is able to be a hybrid, or cyborgs. However, in this age of technology, posthuman is being used to describe “a time in which ‘human is no longer the most important things in the universe’, where ‘all technological progress of human society is geared towards the transformation of the human species’, and where ‘complex machines are and emerging form of life” (Pepperell, 2003:177 in Gane, 2006). The term ‘posthuman’ gains various critics in previous years, but it becomes clearer today that “a new culture, in which the ‘purity’ of human gives way to new forms of creative evolutions” is being more acceptable (Gane, 2006).

Some evidences show that the process of this kind of upgrade or creative innovations are already happening for marking the ‘posthuman’ era. Gray in BBC Story (2017) uses a term of “another level of convenience” to describe how an employee of a software firm Mozilla was voluntarily being implanted with a rice-grain-sized microchip, which enable to open doors, log in into computers, and contain his all contacts address. Further updates related to this matter, the New York Times reported that on August 1st 2017, employees in Three Squared Market, a technology company based on Winconsin, were offered to be injected a chip in between their thumb and index finger. Once it is done, anything related to RFID jobs such as accessing office building or make payment for foods in office cafeteria can be done with waving the hand. It was not a compulsory, but as much as 50 out of 80 people were voluntarily being injected with the microchip. This program, as believed to be the first in the United States, was cooperated with a Swedish Company, Biohax International, which also already applied in another Swedish Company, Epicenter.

Despite of the debates whether it’s risky or any other perspectives among employees and society in general, this phenomenon is as exactly as what Harari (2016) mentioned above. Slowly, human will upgrade and evolve themselves to be integrated with robots, that would enable them to redefine jobs, create new employment systems / environments, and transform existing business process. Indeed, this will not be happened in a day or in a year, but slowly, the ‘posthuman’ will be new normal.

Reflecting to aforementioned two perspectives related to HR and referring to automation feasibility from McKinsey & Company’s report, some activities within HR related jobs are already automated (personnel administration, payroll, some parts of learning and development, some degree of recruitment process, and some of compensation and benefits). Yet, some other activities that involve managing others (e.g. talent management), stakeholder’s interactions (e.g. industrial /employee relations), applying expertise (e.g. organizational development, employee selection), and even unpredictable physical work (e.g. organizing employee events) might yet to be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. With the raise of ‘posthuman’ in the making, HR practitioners will also need to be ‘upgraded’ in order to be relevant and to be able to shift from human resources management to posthuman resources management.

Before going deeper to posthuman resources management, it is important to note that HR team would be dealing with managing people in business transformation process affected by robots and artificial intelligence. As some predictable and routine activities and jobs in, for instance, manufacturing are replaceable by machines, HR team would be in charged to determine redundancy (laying off certain number of employees) or design and implement relearn / reskill for its employee to be allocated to other activities or jobs in order to avoid redundancy. This indeed will depend on business strategy, financial condition, and board management’s goodwill.  Nevertheless, high level skills of project management, communication, interpersonal, and emotional intelligence would be needed to be equipped by HR team to make sure the process run smoothly.

The Circle movie, starred by Emma Watson and Tom Hanks which released on April 2017, tells a story of an employee in giant technology company and how she’s worried about damaging implications resulted by the company. Albeit receiving many negative comments and critics because of its story plotting and flat content, some movie segments show the condition of how current technology transform some HR related jobs such as performance management, employee engagement, as well as integrated employee health, compensation, and benefits. In the time forward, when business transformation came into its shape by embodying robots and artificial intelligence in most sectors. AS posthuman are coming to the workplace, a new face of posthuman resources management needs to born.

In 2015, The World Economic Forum, in cooperation with Accenture, released a report entitled “Industrial Internet of Things: Unleashing the Potential of Connected Products and Services”. One of the highlights is discussing how the emerging job market will demand new and different skill set of the workforce. This ‘new skill set of workforce’ is underlined with an emphasize of ‘new mindset’ towards the emergence of robots and technology. By saying ‘new mindset’, posthuman resources management leaders need to equip themselves with the understanding of posthumanism and how to collaborate with them in making sure the organization’s goals are achieved.

In attempt to be a future leader in post-human resources management, some skills and technology augmentations need to be done. Organization design might be different in posthuman era, in which some kind of structures might be needed, some others might need to be dismissed. The recruitment process would also need to be improved in selecting the most suitable ‘posthuman’ with the new form of jobs. The learning and development process might be integrated into certain database embedded in ‘posthuman’ individual, and would be continuously aligned with the business processes. The performance management system would be easily assessed and recorded, yet needs to be adjusted with the posthuman conditions in new jobs era. The form of compensation, benefits, and even pensions might need to be transformed into different types of packages.

In conclusion, I don’t feel worry if my job as an HR practitioner (or at least I don’t feel anything yet) would be taken by robots and/or artificial intelligence – as from the perspective of ‘can’t do anything except to embrace’. It is believed that human species will be continuously evolved, transform themselves with creative ways, and being integrated with the robots (Harari, 2016), which in this writing is referred to ‘posthuman’ era (Gane, 2006). Thus, the HR management field of jobs might also be evolved to PostHR management or any kind of it. Towards becoming a future PostHR practitioner, I believe that owning a ‘new-mindset’ which allow to open more learning processes in all HR management spectrums from organization design to compensation, benefits, and pension scheme. At the moment, it is important to keep being relevant by following the updates and gaining understanding of what is happening, as well as being relevant with the updates of technology in HR management fields by being connected with employers and related innovators.

The next question might be whether the new set of ethical leadership / management is needed for this era. Will see 🙂

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