In the last two decades- and particularly in the last few years- the rapidly changing global business landscape has posed a great challenge to business management, particularly with regards to getting the best out of the workforce. While constantly on the lookout for an effective human resource management process, business managers are in a bit of a fix as to how to achieve workers’ productivity and, at the same time, taking steps to retain their workforce. From small-scale businesses to large industries, dealing with employee performance and productivity problems remain a source of nightmare for most managers.

The Challenges

The aforementioned challenges appear to be worse in the Nigerian context, alongside other developing countries, given their fluctuating economic situations. A Survey of Global HR Challenges: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the World Federation of Personnel Management Association (WFPMA), revealed several issues affecting human resources (HR) as a result of global changes. Despite national and regional differences, there was remarkable unanimity in human resource challenges, the study concluded. The top ten of these challenges are change management, leadership development, HR effectiveness measurement, organisational effectiveness, compensation, staffing, succession planning, learning and development, staff retention, and benefits costs.

Since human resource management is central to the success of any organisation, finding solutions to the HR challenges faced by many organisation is pivotal.

In leading the University of Lagos Bookshop to continual  success, I have had to address the many questions confronting the organisation: How can the business manage change in the face of incessant strike actions by civil servants and transformational challenges residents and workers have to cope with in Lagos as a growing megacity? How can one measure HR effectiveness and efficiency when there are productivity lapses in almost all the departments? How can one ensure the recruitment of suitable and capable hands devoid of nepotism and bias? How can employees’ capacity be improved through training and development? These and many more are the questions most enterprises have to solve to stay on the nail in the murky terrain of business management.


Integrating Technology Systems for Effectiveness

Among other discoveries in ensuring effective management, an increased emphasis is placed on training and engagement programmes and investing in areas that will optimize expenditure, such as integrated technology systems. There can’t be any significant improvement without the right tools to measure HR effectiveness, one of which is the use of technology.

As the father of scientific management, Fredrick Winslow Taylor, noted in his Scientific Management, applying science and technology to management improves productivity to maximum prosperity. One of his principles of scientific management is the replacement of the “rule of thumb” work methods with approaches based on a scientific study of tasks and time.

Beyond the guesswork that has characterised some human resource management techniques, with the effect of deepening the stress of businesses, Taylor called for a method or system “discovered or developed through a scientific study and analysis of all of the methods and implements in use, together with accurate, minute, motion and time study.” In other words, human resource management must move from its traditional or “rule of thumb” way of measuring effectiveness to metrics or numbers.

If it is poorly used, technology can get in the way of managing the company’s human resources by overwhelming the ‘human’ part of human resources. However, “Utilizing metrics to determine effectiveness is the beginning of a shift from perceiving HR’s role as purely an administrative function to viewing the HR team as a true strategic partner within the organisation”, the WFPMA says.

With the advancement of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), there has been a rapid improvement in the way business is run, globally, in different industries. Adverts are not only placed on sign posts or billboards but online. Nowadays, people don’t have to go around reading signboards, all they have to do is press a button on their mobile phones and they ‘call up’ any information, be it news, stock market report or vacancies. We are at an age where interviews can be conducted online. Therefore, improvement in technology, in relation to human resource management, is something that is exciting.

One of these amazing technologies I discovered lately is TAMS biometric software. As I gathered, the TAMS workforce management solution has improved many organizations’ return on investment through its automated system of detecting time theft and curbing employee laxity. What’s even more exciting is the bouquet of services offered by TAMS solution. These services cover Time Attendance, Shift Management, Payroll Management, Canteen Management, Job Cloud, Verification and Identity Management. Others are Reports & Statistics and Communication.

This revolutionary homegrown technology has solved the problems of complexity and cost of foreign HRM services,  and perfectly meets the needs of HR management of organisations in different sectors and sizes, from retail chains to manufacturing and construction companies. It has helped to erase human errors in management and also keep the staff on their toes, because now information about staff productivity and punctuality at duty posts are stored in the cloud. Also, it will help people like me in our oversight duties as managers, as I will have reliable information to discharge my duties even without constantly being at each person’s duty post to check on them.

In conclusion, the need to shift from the traditional methods of human resource management to a proven science-based approach that leverages on technology to enhance the human resource function of an organisation cannot be overemphasized. Technology has changed the way HR departments communicate with employees; analysing, storing and securing data of employee performance. Used well, technology makes HR practices more efficient.

Mr Ibrahim Moyosore is the Manager of Unilag Bookshop.

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