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Strategic Human Resource Management: Future Trends

Updated on February 12, 2014


Due to its potential impact on the functioning of organizations, SHRM has been attracting a great deal of attention (Darwish 2013). Academics support the notion that in order for an organization to survive and compete in the present day and into the future in this knowledge based global economy; firms must develop, acquire and accordingly manage world-class HR practices and competencies (Darwish 2013). As stated by Darwish (2013) this perspective has led researchers to focus on the impact of HRM/ SHRM also known as the HRM performance link or the HRM performance debate, on organizational performance. This literature review will focus on: key future trends such as: ethics, CSR and HRM, performance management, e-HRM, organizational development, diversity management, employee relations, employee health and safety, HR metrics and proactive recruitment.

Ethics, CSR and HRM

The desire for a capitalist and egalitarian system has never been so immense given the growing mistrust and scepticism towards business after the global economic crisis (GFC) (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013). The demoralized capital markets and deep economic turbulence has failed to be truly addressed in terms of its root causes as the rescue measures taken by governments seem transient at best (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013). Policymakers focus on mitigating the outcomes of the crisis and fail to deal with the underpinning triggers leading to its initial cause (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013). Regression to a similar economic collapse remains imminent if the root causes of the GFC fail to be addressed (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013). Self-interest, competitive behaviour, the profit maximisation mantra amongst business practitioners and managers, has largely been attributed by scholars as the correlating factors to the GFC (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013). Moral meaning, purpose, values of integrity and responsibility; have been brushed aside in decision making, with business success being sadly defined in terms of monetary gain (Ehnert, Harry, and Zink 2013).

In terms of promoting the workforce integrity agenda HRM plays an important strategic role. Integrity management and CSR agendas are reinforced by HRM as a complementary actor. The real challenges include: managing the relationship with stakeholders, the CSR change and translating the CSR into managerial practices. Reflecting CSR strategies into practice, HR can integrate CSR into organisational practices and provide the tools to change organisational behaviours (Nini, Colvin and Wong 2013). HRM brings important knowledge and expertise in highlighting the priorities relevant to: ensuring business efficiency, managing the change, executing organisational strategy, highlighting employee relevant practices and engaging stakeholders. The HRM function is also dedicated to community and human capital advancement. In the past, workplace cultures doing little to protect the environment or enhance the human spirit have been reinforced by complicit indifferent HRM professionals. In terms of future practice HR has a crucial role to play in embedding workplace integrity and social responsibility in the organisational fabric (Nini, Colvin and Wong 2013).

Performance Management

According to McDermott et al. (2013), company and employee performance have been the main focus of SHRM over the past twenty years, especially the connection between implementing strategic HR practices and developing organizational performance. Academics widely support the high connectedness between the two; however, how they are connected remains a mystery. Critics focus on the need to determine how workers take part in linking HR and performance.

Moreover, the psychological contract, as defined by McDermott et al. (2013), denotes an individual’s views regarding common responsibilities between that person (employee) and employers. These responsibilities usually refer to the economic psychological contract, which involves: money, compensation and interpersonal aspects with a mixture of social emotional aspects such as: mutual provision and concern from employers to their employees. The interpersonal psychological contract focuses more on arrangements accelerating high-devotion employment. Employment procedures can mix monetary and relational elements that could involve pay and retirement pensions. Also, the psychological contract in organizational conduct with employees can combine both economic and relational elements in varied forms.

Furthermore, the HR practices implementation is influenced by the direct line manager. The quality of the performance feedback and how well the line manager feels familiar with employees’ development, are two examples of such implementation. HR implementation is also affected by: the manager’s motives in undertaking such activities, age, behaviour, experience, and their leadership method. In return, how the line manager provides feedback and behaviour, will affect the employee’s ability, motivation and ability to perform (McDermott et al 2013).


The HRM functions future strategic direction is encapsulated by the notion of e-HRM (Marler and Fisher 2013). e-HRM is a relatively new field emerging in 1995, whilst SHRM emerged 30 years ago. The role of HRM in organisations has the potential for immense transformational change through these two research streams. The predicted outcomes in SHRM literature require the innovations of internet-based technologies. Organisational goals for e-HRM investments include: transformation of the HRM function to strategic business partner, improved effectiveness through better delivery of the HRM services function and cost reduction through streamlining the HRM function.

“Consider that from the point of view of the organisation…phenomena, technology seems to be everywhere in the world of practice…technology has arguably become an integral part of most business operations and it is hard to think of any contemporary organisation that does not, at some level, depend on some kind of technologies…yet at a quick glance of the academic management literature would suggest that from the POV of organisational research, technology is largely absent from the world of organising” (Marler and Fisher 2013, 20).

Organisational Development

Organisational development (OD) plays a very crucial role in: performance, success, achieving ecological sustainability and driving innovation alongside more traditional HR processes. OD expertise of HR professionals is key in order to change the behaviour and thinking of employees at all levels within a firm. The new OD will focus on values and attitudes of employees as opposed to structures and systems (Foster 2013).

Foster (2013) states OD is in a unique position to develop the human spirit and nurture organisations, whilst challenging the status quo through values based practice. This would involve moving away from purely financial based measures, challenging organisational leadership to explore a people led change focusing on socially pursuant purpose accomplished by values and ethics in a new performance based system (Marler and Fisher 2013).

The role of the organisation needs to be reconceptualised in line with the emerging trend of organisational effectiveness and sustainability, especially in relation to: external costs created by an organisations: operations, wider contribution to society and the potential of its workforce (Marler and Fisher 2013). In order to achieve organisational effectiveness, sustainability and shareholder value, the future organisation must utilize OD to expand the agenda firms traditionally follow. The future firm must remain relevant and OD aims to imrove, align and construct a system-wide potential change effort (Marler and Fisher 2013). An OD effort must first call into question how a firm does things, what it does and why it exists in the first place (Marler and Fisher 2013). Often there is a danger of reinforcing the status quo, in the event it is the cause of the organisations problems. The pursuit of profit is often an organisations deciding factor and the humanistic values of OD challenge this core assumption. The mechanistic view favoured via the economic agenda is directly opposed to human centred behaviours and values favoured for sustainable performance through OD (Marler and Fisher 2013). The delivery of OD allows for the opportunity to reshape the purpose of a firms endeavours and support leaders in attaining sustainability. This requires the ownership of societal obligations in the broader community and global context (Marler and Fisher 2013).

The dominance of the economic agenda is under threat, as is our world due to its continual dominance. Organisations in the future must consider a shift in thinking regarding the challenges faced by humanity (Marler and Fisher 2013). In this era of turbulent change OD is uniquely placed in regards to its humanistic values system, its recognized effectiveness and its growing popularity, to have a fundamental role in changing, societal, ideological and organisational norms (Marler and Fisher 2013).

Diversity Management

As stated by Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey (2013) the concept of diversity requires a deeper analysis by organisations. Studies reinforce the view ‘diversity’ in workforce heterogeneity is a multidimensional and complex concept. The effect of each type of diversity is not necessarily similar, as employees can differ across a broad range of demographic attributes such as ethnicity, gender and age. Studies also impressed upon the importance of variables that were particularly difficult to manage and measure such as cognitive processes or values. It is necessary to define and analyse clearly the different variables an organisation needs to manage before redesigning a bundle of HR practices (Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey. 2013). Different diversity categories need to be explored in terms of intersectionality to determine effects. Organisations must also determine a new direction towards diversity in terms of theoretical conceptualization instead of focusing on salient and pre-defined diversity categories (Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey. 2013). In terms of their role in inequality at work, privilege and generating power; academics propose to empirically identify the emergent attributes in each case (Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey. 2013). By doing so the organisation can conceptualize diversity as: temporal, geographical, dynamic, empirical and intersectional in conceptuality (Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey. 2013).

Employee Relations

Through the pursuit of an internal branding strategy employees can be influenced by senior management through a focused and uniform approach towards corporate norms and values. Line managers should exercise leadership through a strong corporate culture to modify employees’ emotional stability, organisational tenure and influence job satisfaction. Senior managers must provide the appropriate role modelling, incentives, improve trust, support training and development to sustain employee relations (Frenkel, Sanders and Bednall 2013). Employees will be less inclined to leave and experience greater levels of job satisfaction if they hold a consistent view regarding support from senior line management. HR and senior management should aim for frequent communication to ensure relationships are strengthened. Subsequently, organisations future focus of employee relations relies on management’s consistent support, strong communication and HR provision of support of day-to-day tasks for line managers (Frenkel, Sanders and Bednall 2013).

Employee Health and Safety

The three major issues include: employee stress management, work-life balance, and occupational health and safety. Supportive management can decrease stress, work-life balance allows for greater motivation and onsite psychologists for OH&S are future trends, moving from physical concerns to psychological issues (Wei and Zhizhang 2013). Stress has a significant impact effecting: employee attitudes, performance and productivity. Strategies to reduce stress increase profitability and a supportive management structure can succeed in creating a stress free workplace. Work-life balance programs allow for positive results in terms of productivity. Reducing work-family stress and increasing work flexibility allows for the freedom to manage individual employee workloads and eventually increase workers motivation on the job. In terms of OH&S the health of the company is a direct reflection of the health of an employee. Traditional approaches have focused on physical harm to the employee, whereas there is a greater need to focus on the psychological well-being of the employee.

HR Metrics

A prime example of HR Metrics evolving beyond the traditional stats model is the inclusion of new functionalities within social media networking sites such as LinkedIn (Dulebohn and Johnson 2013). An example of this is the recent release of the ‘influencer program’ and the talent brand index benchmark whereby: organisations can track who is viewing them from what industry, geographically and the online knowledge worker communities they are a part of (Dulebohn and Johnson 2013).

Proactive Recruitment

In terms of proactive recruitment studies, the literature is scant with a mere mention by Kamenou, Netto and Fearfull (2013) providing one of the few case examples, in their study of ethnic minority women in the Scottish labour market. The researchers proposed proactive strategies, such as seeking out potential candidates from ethnic minority populations and providing career support and mentoring opportunities. Recruitment is evolving in the face of the knowledge based economy and the global race for talent, specifically the knowledge worker (Triadafilopoulos 2013). Other studies such as Lewin and Zhong (2013) focus on social media in terms of prospective talent. For instance, knowledge worker communities of practice are evolving due to advances in communication technologies. Knowledge memberships and professional identities are overlapping as talent utilize various social networking platforms to link across continents and vast distances. Web talent brokering platforms such as and social networking tools (LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) have diffused, creating professional collaborative communities of practice, allowing a savvy recruiter to proactively source key talent online.


In conclusion, SHRM plays a crucial role in the survival of organisations (Darwish 2013). The advent of the knowledge based economy requires firms to develop, acquire and accordingly manage world-class HR practices and competencies in order to survive into the future (Darwish 2013). For instance, in terms of ethics, CSR and HRM, organisations must move away from the profit maximisation mantra that initiated the GFC and implement integrity linked managerial practices (Ehnert, Harry and Zink 2013). Performance management should reinforce the psychological contract to ensure employees remain committed to their organisation economically and relationally (Mcdermott et al. 2013). e-HRM is vital in transforming the HRM function as a strategic business partner through internet-based technologies (Marler and Fisher 2013). The OD of the future will focus on values and attitudes of employees as opposed to structures and systems (Foster 2013). Diversity management needs to accommodate demographic attributes such as: ethnicity, gender and age, in this globalized world (Fernando, Fernandez and Gardey. 2013). Employee relations requires internal brand loyalty and top-down managerial support for employees (Frenkel, Sanders and Bednall 2013). Employee, health and safety needs to focus on non-traditional trauma to the employee such as psychological issues (Wei and Zhizhang 2013). HR Metrics is evolving with the advent of social media networking sites beyond traditional stats models (Dulebohn and Johnson 2013). Proactive recruitment is strategically significant for organisations in seeking out candidates through talent brokering platforms and online networking tools (Lewin and Zhong 2013) Overall, these future SHRM trends will have an immense impact on the sustainability of organisations and management should take heed to remain competitive.


Alcazar, Fernando, Pedro Fernandez, and Gonzalo Gardey. 2013. “Workforce Diversity in Strategic Human Resources Management Models.” Cross Cultural Management 20 (1): 39-49.

Darwish, Tamer. Strategic HRM and Performance: Theory and Practice. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Dulebohn, James, and Richard Johnson. 2013. “Human Resources Metrics and Decision Support: A Classification Framework.” Human Resource Management Review 23 (1): 71-83.

Ehnert, Ina, Wes Harry, and Klaus J. Zink. 2013. Sustainability and Human Resource Development: Developing Sustainable Business Organizations. New York, USA: Springer.

Foster, Carrie. 2013. “Re-conceptualizing the Role of Organizations in Society: Challenging the Status Quo Using Organizational Development.” Development and Learning in Organizations 27 (6).

Frenkel, Stephen, Karin Sanders, and Tim Bednall. 2013. “Employee Perceptions of Management Relations as Influences on Job Satisfaction and Quit Intentions.” Asia Pacific Journal of Management 30 (1): 7-29.

Kameou, Nicolina, Gina Netto, and Anne Fearfull. 2013. “Ethnic Minority Women in the Scottish Labour Market: Employers’ Perceptions.” British Journal of Management 24 (3): 398-413.

Lewin, Arie, and Xing Zhong. 2013. “The Evolving Diaspora of Talent: A Perspective on Trends and Implications for Sourcing Science and Engineering Work.” Journal of International Management 19 (1): 6- 13.

Marler, Janet, and Sandra Fisher. 2013. “An Evidence- Based Review of e-HRM and Strategic Human Resource Management.” Human Resources Review 23 ( 1): 18-36.

McDermott, Aoife M., Edel Conway, Denise M. Rousseau, and Patrick C. Flood. 2013. "Promoting Effective Psychological Contracts through Leadership: The Missing Link between Hr Strategy and Performance." Human Resource Management 52 (2): 289-310.

Triadafilopoulos, Triadafilos. 2013. Wanted and Welcome? Policies for Highly Skilled Immigrants in Comparative Perspectives. Toronto, Canada: Springer.

Wei, Chen, and Wang Zhizhang. 2013. “The Discussion of the HRM Practices and Procedures in Non-Profit Organizations: A Case Study of the Sunshine Consulting Call Center.” Canadian Social Science 9 (4): 28-33.

Yang, Nini, Caran Colvin, and Yim-Yu Wong. 2013. "Navigating Corporate Social Responsibility Components and Strategic Options: The IHR Perspective." Academy of Strategic Management Journal 12 (1): 39-58.


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    • michaelrbasso profile image

      Michael R Basso, PhD, MBA, 3 years ago from USA Greater NYC area

      You covered much material in a brief article - kudos for that, Rhea. I think that definition of success within the efficient and effective organization of the future will a composite of: financial sustainability, wellness/stress leadership, tolerance, diversity, global ersponsibility, fun and more. A approach will naturally bring about the transition from strategy to tactics as stakeholders - do "right work the right way."

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 3 years ago from Hawai'i

      Voted up, interesting! What a comprehensive coverage of HRM. The researcher in you has definitely come out in this hub. Looking forward to reading more from you. Aloha, Stephanie

    • michaelrbasso profile image

      Michael R Basso, PhD, MBA, 3 years ago from USA Greater NYC area

      Very nice and informative article! -However, the amount and density of expanded citations could make it difficult for some readers, within the Hubpage audience, to follow along and to understand your thoughts.- Great stuff in any event.

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