18 Nov Sustainable HRM is HRM for all – 10th Biennial International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network
Information Technology (IT) has entered working life on a large scale in the 1980s. Several studies point at the big changes IT has caused and will cause on the structure of the labour market, the number of jobs, their content (tasks) and job demands. This is also the context in which Sustainable HRM has a function. Do HR professionals see a role for sustainability in the digital age? And should Sustainable HRM also be understood as ‘HRM for all’?
‘Sustainable HRM’ was the title of the 10th Biennial International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network that was recently held in Nijmegen. At this major conference with great opportunities to exchange results from research, I visited two tracks mainly: ‘Managing the sustainable career – who is responsible for what’ and ‘Inclusive HRM for vulnerable (potential) workers’.
Information technology and the labour market
Although international HRM researchers do mention automation and robotization (Borghouts, Manresa and Van der Laken did so), the huge impact I expect these developments to have, is not in the central focus of HRM research. But when information technology pushes people over the edge of the labour market, like for example happened to a lot of the former employees in the financial sector and in staff departments, the question ‘Who is responsible for what’ appears to be very apt. For the large number of inactive people entering jobs will be harder too when job demands rapidly change as a consequence of information technology. This is a major problem nowadays when staffing needs increase and labour shortages impede economic development.
HRM for all
Sustainable HRM in my view has to include former workers who find themselves suddenly at home with redundant skills and inactive potential workers who lost track of up to date digital competences. In the light of economic goals, social legitimacy, reflection of customers and employer branding, I call that ‘Smart HRM’. Who is responsible for that? Maybe a conference theme for next time?