Article: Significance of Human Resource Management in Military

HCM/HRMS/HRIS

Significance of Human Resource Management in Military

The main goal of military HRM is to support the organization to reach its goals. It should be linked with the organizational strategy, and also with people behaviour and characteristics.
Significance of Human Resource Management in Military

The term “human resource management” (HRM) has been accepted by the Military leadership and over time has been integrated into policy and doctrine formerly used to describe the functions of “personnel management” and “personnel administration.” Military HRM is the major component of the it’s overall HRM operations. It has evolved from a supporting role to that of a strategic enabler for the Military. Today’s challenges require informed decisions on force structure requirements, recruiting and retention programs, well-being programs, and personnel readiness from both individual and unit perspectives. HR leaders must possess professional and specialized skills to meet these challenges and manage the programs that comprise the functions and integrating systems of the HR life cycle model.

Human resource management (HRM) is a system of systems – manpower system, resource system and personnel system – that performs specific functions. Although there are a lot of similarities between the corporate and the military human resources management, there are also some important differences.

The strategic importance of the HRM concept cannot be separated from the understanding of HRM evolution as a concept. As the military organization look more and more like a corporation in the case of an all volunteer force, the implementation of the alternatives borrowed from corporate world will most probably led to the improvements in terms of rewards, flexibility and organizational culture.

In the same time, there are some downsizing aspects, mostly related to the weakening of the command relations and social values specific to the military’s culture. There is more stable job definition in the military than in the so called corporate HRM. The positive side of this clarity is also coming with a lack of flexibility.

Another difference is the long term impact of the recruitment in the military organization when compared with the non-military organisations. This is mostly because the military is recruiting only for entry level, and cannot do it for any level. After the recruitment, the military promote from within, and only rank by rank. The promotions are related to the years in service, previous assignments, and experience. The previous particularities generated a strong requirement for the development of an elaborate and well structured in house training.

From this perspective, a strategically aligned HRM system has three inter-related processes: personnel management, compensation, and organizational structure. Without a good team of professionals working in the Human Resources Department, no organization can build performance. The key functions of the Human Resources team include recruitment of staff, their training, performance evaluations, employee motivation and communication in the workplace, workplace security, and much more. “Human Resource Development is an essential command function and, in this context, it needs to be understood that the soldier of tomorrow has to be an innovator who can combine imagination and knowledge with action.” Some of the characteristics that are vital for soldiers of the future are:

  • Quick decision-making capability, greater mental mobility and adaptability.
  • Capacity to handle higher stress levels.
  • Capability to handle independent assignments.
  • Higher technical competence.
  • Greater motivational levels and higher standards of junior leadership.
  • Better administrative skills.


HRM in the Military involves a variety of activities, which include preparing human resource forecasts, recruitment, screening of prospective employees, the study of training needs, the development of compensation systems, performance appraisal and rewards and recognition.

The Defence have reorganised their thought process on human resource management and periodically updated in consonance with the changing socio-economic scenario without compromising its core values and fundamental interests. However, in the last six decades, certain changes at rapid paces have evolved into major challenges, which are critically affecting the recruitment to forces, especially in officer’s cadre.

Major changes affecting HR in Defence are denudation of recruitment base, early retirement ages, limited avenues for promotion, lack of motivation due to early supersession, changing morals and ethics, increasing level of stress and a large number of Short Service officers not opting for permanent commission.

It has been aptly said that institutions do not transform – its people do; platforms and organisations do not defend the country – people do.

Human Resource Management in the Army is an extremely vital issue because its strength has always been its soldier. Of the Army‘s sanctioned strength of 47,762 officers, the held strength is only 36,790.This shortage is not of recent vintage. The shortfall ranged from 12 to 15 per cent in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Emergency and short service commissions spurred by wars during that period were the preferred approac h to bridge the gap. The next three decades however, saw the shortage rise up to 24-25 per cent.

Significantly there are no deficiencies in the higher ranks of Colonel and above. The criticality is of the prescribed annual induction in the Army of 2,240, where actual intake in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 was 1,599, 1,892 and 2,275 respectively. This corresponds to 67, 72 and 102 percentage. Once inducted into Service, the aim is to retain the human resource for the optimal period, while constantly making an endeavour to enhance their professional and individual growth so as to ensure that the 1.2 million strong Army remains highly motivated and committed. 

Globalisation, economic inter-dependence, revolution in military affairs, unipolarity, terrorism, phenomenal growth in information technology and other internal practices have thrown up fresh challenges for most nations. Globalization has also ensured that no country remains insulated from the turbulences mentioned above. It is therefore, imperative that our Military evolve with the changing times and maintain a level of preparedness in consonance with the Nations stature as the dominant regional player.

Tough working conditions, disruption in family life and stress and strain due to prolonged deployment in difficult areas are the other contributing factors in making the Defence ‘an unattractive career’ and ever increasing requests for premature retirements. Pay Commissions constituted from time to time have helped in improving the salaries but they can still not be compared with the pay packages and perks being offered by the corporate sector, Glitzy advertising campaigns to attract youngsters to become ‘officers and gentlemen’ are obviously not doing the trick.

While all efforts are being made to attract and get the best people to join Military and improve their career prospects, there is a need to initiate suitable measures with a view to enhance retention and utilization of this limited manpower particularly in the officer’s cadre.

The main goal of military HRM is to support the organization to reach its goals. It should be linked with the organizational strategy, and also with people behaviour and characteristics. Based on the strategy and behaviour specific HRM processes should be developed and implemented. In the present competitive world, the companies/organisations in the Corporate Sector are also facing skill shortage, talent crunch and attrition which are reaching historically height ever. As such every company is trying to devise innovative HR practices to attract the best talent and retain them by providing conducive environment to work. These practices help to make sure that the employees feel good about the organisation they work for and add value to the organization. 

Topics: HCM/HRMS/HRIS

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